Not a day goes by that Aurora isn’t faced with another tragic reminder of the violent crime that continues to terrorize our city. As candidates for city council, addressing crime was a common concern that we heard about from citizens at almost every doorstep, in every business we visited, and in every corner of the city.
We vowed that, if elected, improving public safety would be our top priority. As Members of Council, we believe there is no greater responsibility than ensuring the safety of our citizens.
Aurora was once one of the safest cities in America, and we know it can be again.
However, current trends suggest not enough is currently being done to address the crime wave sweeping across our city and that must change.
It is increasingly clear that the out-of-control rise in crime threatening the safety of Coloradans is in large part a result of the offender-friendly laws passed by state lawmakers, and that these out-of-touch policies have created hurdles that will be difficult to overcome. But as local elected officials, public safety must be our top priority, and we can’t wait for the State Legislature to come to their senses.
As the chair and vice chair of the city’s public safety committee, we are co-sponsoring a resolution that outlines a comprehensive plan – the Aurora Action Plan – integrating a combination of new and ongoing strategies aimed at addressing the surge in crime head on.
The Aurora Action Plan directs the City Manager to work with Council, to develop additional tactics toward the core strategies, and to implement a comprehensive crime reduction plan. As part of the plan, the City Manager will be required to provide monthly updates on progress made toward each of the core strategies to the public safety committee. As the axiom goes, what gets measured gets done.
Our 5-point Aurora Action Plan includes:
- A fully staffed and fully funded Aurora Police Department (APD). We believe an intentional focus must be given to ensuring that APD has the resources they need, including all specialty units critical to building and maintaining community relationships. We also want our officers to have access to ongoing and industry leading training to protect our citizens and themselves.
- Implementation of Data Driven Policing. We want to improve overall data collection, utilize hot spot analysis to put more officers on patrol in key neighborhoods, and improve the operational efficiency of the department through data analytics.
- Rebuild Aurora Gang Reduction Impact Program (AGRIP). Our colleague, Council Member Angela Lawson, has led the way to restore and expand AGRIP to address youth violence through immediate intervention and long-term prevention strategies. We believe the integration of this program into the overall effort to address violent crime in our city is critical.
- Expand Crisis Response Teams (CRTs). Early indications suggest that this program has been a success, with the one shortcoming being a lack of clinicians to fully support the program. We want to address that challenge and increase the number of clinicians available to respond to mental health calls.
- Implementation of an urban camping ban. The homeless encampments that have popped up along our highways, in our neighborhoods, and next to our small businesses have created significant public health and safety challenges. Mayor Mike Coffman recently introduced a commonsense proposal that would ban camping and ensure that alternative options are available. We believe the implementation of this plan is vital to improving public safety in our community.
We know that altering the trajectory of the out-of-control rise in crime in Aurora will not happen overnight. But we recognize that we have a duty to act. The Aurora Action Plan is a first step toward fulfilling our commitment to make your safety and the safety of our community a top priority.
We look forward to community feedback and input from public safety experts as this plan is further refined and put into action.
The current situation is simply untenable. It is time to act.
Dustin Zvonek and Danielle Jurinsky are at-large council members of the Aurora City Council