It seems Aurora Police can’t resist eroding public trust by perpetuating a culture of concealment and vindication.
News about Interim Police Chief Dan Oates’ dubious dismantling of police oversight and overturning discipline of two officers has created yet another debacle for the city’s embattled police department.
A story first reported Friday by Channel 4 investigative reporter Brian Mass, and a deeper story the next day by Sentinel Colorado, revealed that a series of actions taken by Oates has created a quandary in APD that will leave another indelible scar on the already staggered department.
The Sentinel story revealed that Oates brushed aside credible allegations of malfeasance committed by then command chief Cassidee Carlson. Oates overturned official judgments against her made by the police department’s Internal Affairs board, as well as the Chief’s Review Board.
And three days later, he promoted Carlson to the high-level rank of patrol division chief.
Talk among the ranks about Carlson’s investigation by the police department’s Internal Affairs unit prompted the Sentinel to file records requests for the case weeks ago, which were denied.
The investigation report, leaked to Channel 4, detailed Carlson’s questionable involvement in a friend’s violation of a restraining order. Both the Internal Affairs unit and the Chief’s Review Board rebuked Carlson, issuing a judgment of “behavior unbecoming an officer.” The IA unit went further, criticizing Carlson for being dishonest with investigators.
The police department has, over the past few years, been justly excoriated by the community, police and state officials for brushing aside and concealing a long, garish list of police corruption and abusive, even deadly, behaviors.
In fact, recent changes in state law forcing police departments to act more transparently and with accountability were prompted by Aurora’s horrific past exploits.
Not only did Oates subvert the work of almost a dozen veteran, respected police officials who rebuked Carlson, he then dissolved the Chief’s Review Board and reduced the ranks, and rank, of internal affairs officials.
Finally, rather than penalizing Carlson for what at best appears to be astonishingly poor judgment — impugning her ability to make critical judgments as a police officer and especially a top-level commander — Oates promoted her, three days after he upended her rebuke.
In a separate incident, a new Aurora police hire was arrested in Arkansas earlier this year, after becoming involved in a domestic situation. He was charged with drunkenness and disorderly conduct, and he then became abusive to jail deputies, according to police records.
In Aurora, that’s grounds for immediate termination. The novice cop was fired by Oates and then apparently “unfired” on the same day, unilaterally.
When the Sentinel asked police officials on Oct. 5 if Oates had altered discipline of any Aurora officers, his spokesperson said no.
It’s nearly impossible to fathom the level of delusion and tone deafness Oates suffers to ignore the wrath of the community and state of Colorado that has beset the Aurora police department.
His smug and unapologetic excuse is that, as chief, he expects to be afforded the role of what essentially would be described as a benevolent police dictator.
“As chief, it is my sole responsibility to decide what discipline is appropriate. My record is clear. I know how to hold cops accountable for misconduct,” Oates said in a statement to Channel 4. “
Oates holds no such record, and he is gravely mistaken in believing that he, alone, sets the standards for police behavior and discipline in Aurora, or anywhere.
He overlooks or never understood that it was under his tenure, too, that Aurora Police was infected with a toxic culture of favoritism, concealment and vindication of select officers.
Oates represents the very thing that the state attorney general has charged Aurora with in a consent decree to purge from the department.
The APD is composed of hundreds of diligent, talented and trusted officers and civilian employees who are stained when the department overlooks arrested for drunkenness and disorderly behavior, or when commanding officers call their cousins to watch over dubious domestic violence fallout for friends.
And those valued and honorable cops, and the public they serve, have every right to expect that their chief, their supervisors and their peers be held to the same standards as the public and the profession demands.
Oates has made Aurora’s police department chaos exponentially worse with his poor judgment.
Aurora police must meet three overarching demands from the community and the state in reforming its police department: it must be transparent, it must be accountable and it must submit to independent review.
As a remedy now, City council members and the attorney general need to immediately insist that Aurora fund, appoint and staff an office of independent oversight to coordinate with the state mandated independent auditor.
Oates either forgot or discarded his own comments when he came on board in April, to replace fired Chief Vanessa Wilson, removed under a cloud of suspicion and doubt.
Oates said he was “not coming in with an agenda to change the discipline process,” he said at a press conference.
He told the Sentinel, “The way I think an ideal police department should operate is that the chief decides what’s appropriate discipline in a transparent way, for the cops and for the community, and if the community and the elected officials are unhappy with those decisions, then you get rid of the chief.”
Oates has been neither transparent nor prudent in this fiasco, and we agree with him, “get rid of the chief.”
I whole-hardheartedly agree with your position on Oates. Additionally, I note that there is an overlap in Cassidee Carlson’s time with the department and the tenure of Chief Oates. Interim Chied Oates’ time is up! Now the MAGA (Make Aurora Great Again) City Council needs to look at the performance of City Manager Twombly? It appears that he missed the mark on selection and supervision of the interim chief of police. Probably time for a replacement there as well.
Well, at least thus should make some of the ReTrumplicant posters happy, as it represents APD’s return to the good old days.
Chief Oates needs to go. He came in after an unqualified and emotionally unstable council person besmirched the previous chief on a radio show and then was not censored as a result of a meeting conducted behind closed doors. Chief Wilson was trying to follow the state order to improve the department and build connections with residents. City administrators now need to understand that they are not living in a totalitarian country. They cannot and should not destroy or exonerate any city employee based on cronyism or in a closed meeting when they want to conceal. City management and the police department need an intervention and citizens deserve transparency. Maybe it’s time for the state to intervene in a more forceful way…
“City administrators now need to understand that they are not living in a totalitarian country.” That’s the problem though – they want a totalitarian country as long as they’re in charge.
Thanks for trying, Dan. As you can tell the left wing activists and the Sentinel are much more active and outspoken since you last left Aurora.
Take our money and run at the end of the month. You tried but nothing you can do will appease the radicals. You cannot run the APD as a department head but only as the radicals, “fall guy”.
While leaving, suggest your replacement to be Omar Montgomery, Candice Bailey or possibly Dave Perry, even though he is a white male. They seem to know all the answers to policing and safety in Aurora.
It’s getting worse, isn’t it Dave. Time is getting short.
Ah, Dick your pitiful nostalgia for when you were out there busting heads and delivering street justice when hacks like Oates were in charge. He only came back for the money; double dipping on retirement. He had zero thought about turning around a disrupted and dysfunctional department, or of taking the consent decree seriously.
More stupid decisions by Twombly and Council.
Wrong again, GeneD, I’ve always abhorred violence, always.
As for Dan, I have no idea why he jumped back into this situation, but I’m happy for any effort he has made towards making us a safer city. Can’t say your thoughts are right or wrong but I consider his intentions better than anyone else’s at this time, including yours.
Gene, you sure seem to have a solid stereotype of police officers. Could it be that you don’t understand that there are a lot more good officers who don’t fit your stereotype and don’t condone misconduct. How about the investigators that made case against Cassidee Carlson? Maybe the City should actually listen to the people in the Department.
Are you familiar with the phrase ‘one bad apple…’?
It would be different if you actually knew anything other than the headlines.
Huh? What is the source of your deep hidden knowledge? Feedback from your headbuster buddies still on the force?
If we were in fact interested in protecting the public and really being able to advance good police work, we would have some open forum where we honestly discussed the job of police chief with people who actually understand. I am sorry, but the public, the media, and the legislature do not understand any of it. While they try to fix it, they are destroying it They have the same twisted picture of the police that you have, Gene. Sure, some of that exists. Not to the scale you believe. We won’t ever fix any of it following the thoughts you have and not without an actual chief following some sensible guidelines.. The consent decree and the police reform bill are accomplishing the opposite of what you think.
Good, old boys’ club is open for business.
Oates wasn’t a bad chief, he had a bad assistant chief.