EDITORIAL: Aurora residents deserve answers in attacks on APD Chief Wilson

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Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson talks to reporters during a press conference Nov. 15 after 6 teenagers were shot in an Aurora park earlier in the day. PHOTO BY PHILIP B. POSTON/Sentinel Colorado

It’s difficult to fathom a better way for Aurora to further maim its reeling police department than to needlessly sack its chief amid a scandal fed by rumors and secrecy.

The city appears to be headed for such a quagmire after an attorney for Police Chief Vanessa Wilson confirmed rumors that City Manager Jim Twombly has pressed her to resign.

“There has been a campaign against Chief Wilson and the deputy chief orchestrated by certain members of city council,” lawyer Paula Greisen told The Sentinel last week. “They have made it clear their priority is to push her out. They have called her ‘trash’ and said her termination is in the works, and there’s been an ongoing effort to demoralize and demean her.”

That is indisputable.

Leading the baseless and erroneous attack on Wilson has been newly elected Councilmember Danielle Jurinsky. On a right-wing-extremist talk radio show, during council meetings and on social media, Jurinsky has spearheaded an ad hominem and baseless attack on the chief. The assault has been inspired by disgruntled rank-and-file cop leaders incensed by fearless efforts by Wilson to lead the beleaguered Aurora Police Department out of the shameful disaster the force has inflicted upon itself. Demanding quid-quo-pro for propping up her election campaign, she’s delivering the goods to aggrieved union leaders.

Aurora residents are not fooled by attempts by Jurinsky nor anyone else to gaslight them about what has happened in the department over the past several years.

  • Some Aurora police officers were at best criminally negligent in confronting Elijah McClain and causing his death. While a grand jury has indicted officers involved in the homicide of a completely innocent Black man, a court has yet to convict those involved in the crime or acquit them. Regardless, the entire world saw the video with their own eyes and read thorough investigations that made it indisputable that McClain was abused by some officers and died because of it.
  • An Aurora police officer remains on the force who also was caught on video tape making sick racist remarks during an investigation, referring to Black witnesses to a crime as “porch monkeys.”
  • Three sadistic Aurora police officers were caught making a “selfie” as they parodied the very choke hold procedure inflicted on McClain associated with his death while being abused by Aurora police officers. It was a scandalous scheme that drew international scorn and ridicule.
  • Aurora police drew global contempt again when an Aurora officer passed out drunk behind the wheel of his squad car, on duty, an outlandish stunt that was forgiven by the previous police chief and placed back on duty.
  • The APD clinched its reputation as a racist nightmare when cops pulled over a car with Black women and girls, wrongly targeted as a stolen vehicle, and forced hysterical young black girls face down on hot asphalt during their erroneous arrest. Just months ago, another Aurora officer, filmed on video, sadistically abused a Black man during his arrest for loitering, wrongly choking him during what was clearly an assault on a citizen.

While some misguided Aurora police and city council members like Jurinsky have tried to defend or excuse what are clearly indefensible and inexcusable crimes, Chief Wilson has courageously made clear how repugnant these felonies were, and how wrong it is not to call them out.

Wilson has been steadfast in assuring the public that as horrifying and unnerving as these and other Aurora police stunts have been, they are but a relative few cops that have tarnished the reputation of more than 600 officers who are honest, trustworthy and competent officers. Wilson has made it clear that those officers who abuse citizens should be fired, and she has honorably held that promise.

At the same time, Wilson has just as steadfastly stood behind those in the force who are allegiant to a police department dedicated to transparency, accountability, fairness and professionalism.

Wilson has stood up against the mayor and others who insist it is the job of the police to insert themselves in the social and humanitarian crisis that has made thousands of people homeless.

Wilson has insisted that police focus on rebuilding trust in the community, paramount to successfully addressing crime, and at the same time she has pressed elected and appointed leaders to stand behind the police department with resources and support.

In relatively record time, Wilson has been able to demonstrably show that abusive behavior by sworn officers will not be tolerated, persuading a skeptical public that it can and should trust Aurora police as it enacts reforms mandated by residents, city leaders, state and, likely, federal officials.

No credible person on the city council nor in city management has offered a single reason why Wilson should not continue to lead the Aurora Police Department out of the quagmire that former police and city officials inflicted on the community.

Just weeks ago, Twombly and Wilson were lockstep in ensuring the state and the public that Aurora was on track to enact police department reforms based on transparency and accountability.

Tentative public confidence in the embattled Aurora police department, and the city government as a whole, is absolutely undermined by a clandestine, ploy to oust the very person capable of salvaging the police, and focusing on rising crime instead of internal scandal. 

If Twombly or Wilson’s critics on city council have evidence of deeds or behavior by Wilson so inapt that it warrants her ouster, they need to make those allegations public now.

Much of the reason Aurora has sullied its image as a well-run city and virtually destroyed the reputation of the police department is because of closed-door “internal”  antics that permitted endless acts of police misdeeds to culminate into unchecked racism and malfeasance.

Aurora cannot continue to permit politics to permeate a critical function of the city that its council-manager structure was created to protect against.

City lawmakers need to either force disclosure of credible reasons to question Wilson’s leadership, or they need to voice their advocacy for Wilson to reassure Twombly she has the political support to continue her vital work.   

 

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Dean
6 months ago

“There has been a campaign against Chief Wilson and the deputy chief orchestrated by certain members of city council” Oh Yea -Says Who?

Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson plans to resign, sources confirm (thedenverchannel.com)

https://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/investigations/aurora-chiefs-attorney-says-she-doesnt-plan-to-resign-sources-maintain-she-will-be-out-as-chief

After watching these two conflicting news reports no one at the city seems to know anything…All of a sudden, folks with their fingers on everyday city pulse, they are all dummies. They’re completely clueless what specifically the chief’s plan looks like. Only the chief knows what she wants to do, who buys into that? On the other hand, let’s not forget, chief Wilson made it extremely clear to her new progressive transformation policy, to put into full public inspection the details of any officer she fired or was investigating, no scandals in her presence. She wanted the public to not have to be guessing about rumors in their police department. Despite all the chief’s hub-bub, sounds more like do-as I-say- not as-I-do guidelines from APD honcho? And in Mexico with all this going on? Cheap spring air fares? Not likely…

And then The Sentinel reported their CORA request asking for pertinent details in formal talks (aka- public meeting censure talks) coming from the dust up between CM Marcano, and CM Jurinsky. Then the city tries to justify their decision, a consolidated scheme to not produce records. It’s pretty clear the city that is always telling us they are about transparency is really more into convenient, and useful non-transparency.

Doug
Doug
6 months ago
Reply to  Dean

Unclear where you’re going with all this. It is clear the new conservatives are holding the city hostage though.

Susan Carr
Susan Carr
6 months ago

Fire her and her woke minions

Doug
Doug
6 months ago
Reply to  Susan Carr

Susan Carr. Do you ever have any intelligent comments to make on these subjects with facts to back up your position or do you prefer kneejerk: just fire her
Care to tell us readers why?

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
6 months ago
Reply to  Doug

She has no intelligent comments, because she has no intelligence.

Robert L Andrews
5 months ago
Reply to  Joe Felice

I heard a quote the other day, “It would be nice to be important but it is important to be nice.” Questioning someone’s intelligence just because you do not agree with their opinion is not nice. 🙁

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
6 months ago

There are two reasons that the naysayers and haters have for wanting her fired:
1. Female
2. Gay

Well I’ll tell you what, she’s doing the job that no man before her has been able to do, and that is get the good old boys club under control. She has the support of everyone I know. If the rank and file don’t like it, then I suggest they find somewhere else to work.

Jeff Ryan
Jeff Ryan
6 months ago
Reply to  Joe Felice

Exactly right. Jurinsky, who seems another practitioner of the thuggery that has come to characterize what passes for the political Right these days, is incensed at the thought of a gay, female police chief and is hellbent on removing her for those reasons alone.

No one who is still in touch with reality could credibly believe there are no problems with the APD. (To be fair, we have allowed local police departments to behave less like police and more like occupying forces all over this country.) A lot of cops obviously have no sense of simple human dignity, preferring to swagger imperially amongst the people they are charged with protecting. In a normal, moral world, the APD would be cowed by the outrage of what was done to Elijah McClain. They would be grateful they weren’t fired wholesale after that bit of homicide.

But I see no sign of that out on the street.

Mark A. Golden
Mark A. Golden
6 months ago

After working in Aurora and living in Aurora for over 30 years, I have noticed the greatest change in the last few years. When was the last time you saw a Police Officer make a traffic stop, even though people are making left hand turns across three lanes of traffic from the right hand traffic lane. When was the last time you were driving the speed limit and were past by several car going 15 to 20 miles an hour over the speed limit. When was the last time you saw a vehicle with expired license plates that have been expired for months. You pay your license fees to be a law abiding citizen, but more and more people are not being law abiding. Cars racing down the streets put you and your children in danger of injury. All of these events are reflective the the policies put in place by the Chief of Police. There was a person breaking into cars in my neighborhood my outside cameras caught on a recording. He looked directly into the camera as he walked up my driveway. He stole a neighbors wallet and went to 7-11 at Montview and Galena St and used a stolen credit card. The Police said they were too busy to get the recording of this thief. This is all reflective of the Police Chief’s policies. When you cause the department to be short handed by about a 170 Officer and your solution is to have the Officers stop making minor traffic stops, the Chief encourages the worst citizens in this city to jeopardize the rest of us with their erratic driving and causes all of us and our children to be placed into potential injury through a policy of ignoring crime because you have allowed the far worse crimes of shootings, murders and gang crime to increase to unbelievable proportions. Her policies are putting the rest of us all in jeopardy because of her directions and guidance. Make us and our children safe by replacing her and hiring someone who will direct their attention to protecting the every day honest citizens and holding the law violators responsible for their actions rather than ignoring their action to appease a minority of the population.

Noel Berkey
6 months ago
Reply to  Mark A. Golden

I have lived in Aurora over 46 years. Everything that Golden mentions has been occurring for that entire time. However, I do see traffic stops, and I see legitimate actions to control gang and gun violence. I also see concern for the actions of a small number of police officers that need to be addressed. It is a shame that blame for all of the aforementioned long-term issues is being attributed to ONE police chief because a very small number of officers don’t like her.

Don Black
Don Black
6 months ago
Reply to  Noel Berkey

Does a majority vote of no confidence in the chief mean a small number of officers don’t like her? Unfortunately, the citizens have no idea what leadership should look like in a police department.

Dean
6 months ago
Reply to  Mark A. Golden

Everything you said is correct. But its deeper than this. City council is more of the driving force to trigger those crime fighting responses through orders by the chief and her administration. Her 500 officers would be willing to follow a competent leader, they have run out of options in their timeline. CM Jurinsky, the most outspoken on her concerns has promised she will do her best to bring Aurora back to a lawfully operating city. That’s a tall order. But at the end of the day, she has a couple on this council that are direct roadblocks to and fundamentally against law and order. Their ideas and thoughts will never get us there, except deliver more of what you are seeing and sick of. This is a significant political turning point for the city, and an opportunity to take back our city. Help Wanted Immediately — Aurora Police Chief – No PC correct dreamers needed.

Doug
Doug
6 months ago
Reply to  Mark A. Golden

Wrong wrot wrong and wrong again.chief doesn’t set their pay, Chief doesn’t hire. There are programs in place but it takes time to see results.

Brendan
Brendan
6 months ago

Give me a break. She’s a liar who should have been fired two years ago after having her officers pepper spray a violin vigil and then flat out lying to counsel that people were handing out rocks and Molotov cocktails. Good riddance.

No mention in this article of the more recent drunk driving case, where a cop was allowed to retire rather than being fired or charged for crashing his city owned vehicle. She can’t blame that one on previous leadership. https://kdvr.com/news/problem-solvers/aurora-internal-affairs-martin-garland/amp/

john wilson
john wilson
5 months ago
Reply to  Brendan

Vanessa was picked because she met two WOKE requirements they wanted in a chief, competence was never a requirement by city council and they didn’t get it. They will fight to keep this empty suit for WOKE purposes, and allow several corrupt executive officers to actually run the department.

Jeff Brown
Jeff Brown
6 months ago

The City of Aurora is plagued by a duopoly that produces extremists both right and left. It’s wired to do precisely that and nothing more.

Luckily, starting in 2026, the city can adopt Ranked Choice Voting to select CMs and the mayor. Of the many benefits this will have is the strong moderating effect on who gets elected.

Pragmatic moderate Independents: Thankfully our time is coming.

Doug
Doug
6 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Brown

Hopefully it won’t be too late

Debra MacKillop
Debra MacKillop
6 months ago

APD and its union fall into further disgrace, complaining and trying to secretly get the Police Chief fired now that Council in conservative hands under corrupt Coffman, because the Chief is following through on needed changes in a force known in the whole country now as racist, brutal and untrustworthy (constantly seem to forget those cams). How can we residents and voters in Aurora feel even less trust in our local government and first responders? This is how.

Don Black
Don Black
6 months ago

Again, the citizens only know what they read. They really don’t have any idea about how a police department works and how important real ethical leadership is to proper functioning. Just like national politics, people know little about the issues and the smooth talking people who are running. Hence, we get the worst possible candidates from both parties. People just go with who they like without any real knowledge of the issues or the real nature off the person. The police have an understanding of what has happened to law enforcement. The public does not. If you knew what we know about Chief Wilson, you might be able to get past her phony image. While you think she is fixing things, she is actually making things worse.

Doug
Doug
6 months ago
Reply to  Don Black

So who gets to choose don? You? The “brother hood”? Who?

Don Black
Don Black
6 months ago
Reply to  Doug

If you sat candidates down who are supported by the police officers and those chosen by the broken good old boy system the city uses, in a public forum, you would begin to see some real difference. You would see some eye opening discussion. The carefully controlled public meetings that were used to present the top three candidates and then the carefully controlled public appearances by Chief Wilson were designed to project an image without any real substance. The City is afraid of open discourse. There are major issues that should be addressed openly, but instead we get a bunch of vague buzz words and general vague ideas about new policies that the police know are just window dressing. The programs mentioned are mostly a joke. The fact that police officers are not allowed to tell you the truth about the real problems in the department should tell you something. Just like Russia, when they are afraid of open discussion, it should tell you right away that they are hiding something. Governments always protect their images and lie. I don’t care if you are right or left, when they are afraid of open discussion, they are not looking for your best interests. I keep bringing up critical issues and the sound of silence is deafening out there. They are afraid of the truth while they keep pumping the public up with feel good generalizations. In the long run, the public will have no idea what happened. The people in charge are not looking for answers. They know that they only have to make it look like they are doing something until they move on to bigger and better jobs. Real transparency would expose the City and the police leadership for what they are. Like the Russian army, they won’t look good. The public is easily fooled by the fake sincerity. It is also the reason the police promotional system is broken. There is a saying that goes “Sincerity is the key…once you learn to fake that, you have it made”.

Jeff Ryan
Jeff Ryan
6 months ago
Reply to  Don Black

Yeah, because the department was doing such a bang-up job before she took over. The APD is world-famous now, and that happened before she was put in charge. The name of Elijah McClain is familiar to thousands and thousands of people all over the planet. What an honor.

I’ve lived in this state for decades, and the APD has always had a crap reputation.

Doug
Doug
6 months ago

There have been programs started. Still waiting on results.

john wilson
john wilson
6 months ago

The vast majority of the officers who worked with her know she was worthless as an officer, as a sergeant, a lieutenant and as a captain. Now the department voted and again show she is worthless as a chief. The city needs to get rid of her so they can move forward, not continually moving sideways dodging the ball. you can’t fix an administration without gutting the administration…time to gut!