School counselor, retired fire captain seated on Aurora Civil Service Commission

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AURORA | Aurora lawmakers elected two new members Monday to the city’s Civil Service Commission, a powerful body with oversight of police hiring, firing and discipline matters that has seen outsized attention from activists. 

After a first round of voting elevated two candidates, city council members unanimously approved the appointment of Cherry Creek schools counselor Brooke Gabrielli and retired Denver Fire Department Captain Harold Johnson. 

The Civil Service Commission holds the final say over the city’s Chief of Police and Fire Chief on police and fire department personnel misconduct, hiring, termination and other discipline matters.

This year, several high-profile disciplinary cases involving Aurora police officers have been forwarded to commissioners for review.Fire police officers have often appealed their terminations to the CSC. 

In October, commissioners unanimously agreed to fire a former Aurora police officer who transported a woman to jail while she was hobbled, inverted and pleading for help in the back of his cruiser last August. 

That former officer, Levi Huffine, is now suing the city, claiming commissioners botched his hearing. 

The CSC also upheld police Chief Vanessa Wilson’s termination of a trio of officers fired earlier this summer for staging an inflammatory photo beside a memorial for Elijah McClain. That decision prevented Jason Rosenblatt, one of the original trio of cops who subdued McClain in Aug. 2019, from returning to the force. 

And in 2018, the CSC reinstated a cop fired by former Chief Nick Metz for using racist slurs. 

At a Feb. 2020 city council meeting, lawmakers sided with then-current CSC commissioners A.J. McDonald, Barbara Shannon-Banister and Pam Turner. McDonald, a retired corrections officer, and Shannon-Banister, a retired city employee, are both new members of the body that allows commissioners to work for a total of three consecutive three-year terms. 

Turner, a retired school teacher, won her third and final term last year. The second vacancy the city filled was created after Turner resigned from the board in December, citing family needs.

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