EDITORIAL: Suspect report targeting Aurora police chief signals a clear political hit job

3867
APD Chief Vanessa Wilson shows one of two photos of the three police officers mocking the death of Elijah McClain at the site of McClain’s 2019 encounter with APD, during a July 3 press conference discussing the photos in question. File photo by PHILIP B. POSTON/Sentinel Colorado

In their misguided effort to push Chief Vanessa Wilson out of the Aurora Police Department, a handful of city lawmakers are turning a serious police records problem into an untenable debacle.

City Manager Jim Twombly fired Wilson Wednesday, saying that the police reports backlog controversy was not part of his decision to sack her. Regardless, the crisis remains and so, too, does an untenable quagmire.

On Tuesday, a Florida police records consultant dropped a scathing audit report at city hall, detailing how more than 2,000 police reports have gone essentially untouched, allowing murderers and molesters to continue pillaging the city unabated.

There’s no proof of that.

City managers backpedaled from the numbers later in the day, but not before Denver TV stations pushed unchallenged headlines that Wilson’s police department was responsible for inexcusable malfeasance.

There’s no proof of that, either.

The only part of the growing drama is that conservative Republicans on the Aurora City Council have worked diligently to undermine Wilson in a clear effort to stop critical police reform in the city.

The public deserves clear, credible answers and not more political kabuki.

The part of the story left untold all day Tuesday, is that the man who is the CEO of the audit company hired by the city, regularly posts his disdain for police reform, Black Lives Matters, liberals, President Joe Biden, vaccination mandates, those who protest police brutality, “woke” community leaders and even schools for teaching history he disapproves of.

That’s according to a story here in Sentinel Colorado.

“There are 2 kinds of liberals,” PRI Consultant Edward Claughton said in a LinkedIn post a few months ago. “Those who genuinely believe in the party’s ideology and are blind to what’s really going on, and those who know perfectly well its real intention…the destruction of democracy and America. Divide and conquer. Power and control. Race and gender wars under the guise of diversity and inclusion, take over the media, education and technology industries and voila.”

Even a casual look at Claughton’s frequent posts raises serious red flags about his credibility as a police auditor in any department, especially this one.  

“Keep fighting for freedom, friends. Keep fighting. What is happening in your country and ours is an outright coordinated attack on liberty through strategically crafted social division using everything from race to technology, to finance, to vaccinations…Enough is enough! The destruction of our freedoms are well underway. Stand up and shout out against wokeism, division and the corporate reverse discrimination that is now so blatantly in place.”

Why a city like Aurora — in the thick of state mandated police reform and trying to dig out from under of a mountain of documented police scandals, many of them focusing on systemic racism — would hire a consultant who is a self-proclaimed warrior against police reform, Black Lives Matters demands and other “woke” concerns, is befuddling.

It takes little more than a simple internet search to find out Claughton was embroiled in a similar no-credibility scandal about 10 years ago in Milwaukee. There, Claughton pitched for a contract to audit the Milwaukee Police Department, embroiled in a host of under-reporting accusations. While bidding for the contract, Claughton posted on social media so many pandering comments about the police chief, it caught the attention of many, including the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

“In more than a dozen Twitter and blog posts since a Journal Sentinel investigation found flaws with the city’s crime data, PRI Management Group has praised Police Chief Edward Flynn and criticized the paper’s reporting,” a Journal Sentinel story said in 2012.

Police officers accused Claughton of shamelessly pandering to Chief Flynn in the reporting scandal. Flynn later hired PRI for a $25,000 contract.

“The online comments by PRI Management Group represent a clear conflict of interest, said Samuel Walker, criminology professor emeritus at the University of Nebraska-Omaha,” The Sentinel Journal reported in a story. “If they have taken a position on the issue, they are not neutral and independent,” he said. “This doesn’t look good at all.”

Similarly, this doesn’t look good at all for Aurora city management and especially city council members who have made public their contempt for Wilson and her “no more business as usual” push for police reform.

Without doubt, Claughton and his “audit” are damaged goods and offer no credible insight to what appears to be a serious problem.

It’s a problem, however, by the city manager’s own admission, that has existed for years. It’s a problem that just a few weeks ago City Manager Jim Twombly lauded Wilson for her diligence in trying to correct.

At this point, it would be a further travesty for city management or city council to pursue anything Claughton’s week spent in the Aurora records department has supposedly gleaned without first seeking credible, objective help. 

Far more credible are outlandish statements anti-police-reform proponents on city council and from inside the police department have made in a naked attempt to oust Wilson for having the audacity to fire cops for their racist and felonious thuggery.

Wilson upheld the firing of Aurora Police Association union chief Doug Wilkinson after an email he sent to all union members became public last November, in which he stated that Wilson’s ultimate goal is “to replace as many of the department’s white males as possible with as many women and minorities.

“To match the ‘diversity’ of ‘the community’ we could make sure to hire 10% illegal aliens, 50% weed smokers, 10% crackheads, and a few child molesters and murderers to round it out” Wilkinson wrote. “You know, so we can make the department look like the ‘community.’”

As disconcerting as was Wilkinson’s email to police union members, Councilmember Danielle Jurinsky’s defense of him was ghastly. Jurinsky has repeatedly shielded the sexist and racist email by saying it was sent from a private email account to members, not an official union account, and shouldn’t be held against him.

With city lawmakers agreeing with Jurinsky currently in the slim majority on the council dais, the community is at risk of the police department backsliding to a time and place where systematic and regular abuse of minorities and others by unscrupulous police officers is justified, overlooked or even hidden.

Such a move could bring serious consequences for the entire city, since the state attorney general has entered into a court ordered pact with Aurora to ensure reforms bringing about the very accountability and transparency Wilson has promoted.

It could result in the state or federal government moving in to take over a police department that refuses to properly and lawfully take care of its citizens.

City managers and cogent, reasonable city lawmakers need to end this charade. The state should complete its own independent audit of problems inside the police records division so a reliable assessment can be made.

Wilson is gone, the records problem remains, and the city so far has little more than a tainted report and upended police department to go on.

If city leaders can’t end this farcical mistreatment of its police employees and citizens, Aurorans can only plead with state officials to intercede on their behalf. 

3.1 8 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
25 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Publius
Publius
4 months ago

Generally I allow for a separation of one’s political musings during their off hours from their work. In the instance of a consultant whose political persona is tied up in his consultancy marketing, not do much. His political positions, if accurately reported by you, seem likely to color his consultancy work and conclusions. It does not appear to me he was hired to consider the issues challenging the records department and to offer solutions, a viable path forward, but to assign blame.

One can agree or disagree with chief Wilsons management of the department. When evaluating that management, it is necessary to put matters into the context of the department she inherited. This was going to be a bumpy ride for any Chief.

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
4 months ago
Reply to  Publius

You hit several nails on the head.

Bat Manuel
Bat Manuel
4 months ago

In four months the new fascist majority on council has shown themselves to be corrupt, incapable of original thought, anti-police, anti-reform, and to generally have a low opinion of our city. We can and should recall them in June.

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
4 months ago
Reply to  Bat Manuel

Yes, but there are better ways to defuse them than calling them names. Then they just end up calling their opponents “socialists,” which we know they aren’t, and nothing gets resolved.

Factory Working Orphan
Factory Working Orphan
4 months ago
Reply to  Joe Felice

Two members of the council literally call themselves Democratic Socialists, Joe.

Billy Shields
Billy Shields
4 months ago

Oh no! Democratic Socialists?!?

Calling all boomers, calling all boomers! Run for the fallout shelters! The Reds are a’coming!

john wilson
john wilson
4 months ago

APD can celebrate and start to heal, but not for long if they pick Juul as chief. not good to swap one bad one for anther bad one.

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
4 months ago

As in most cases, this is a political issue that shouldn’t be political.

john wilson
john wilson
4 months ago

Sadly they forced out, pushed to retire the vast majority of qualified Lieutenants that could have run an ethical, decent department. The prior chief ran many out by withholding choice assignments and appointing cronies as Commanders, Wilson ran out the rest the same way. There’s not much of a pool now for competent leadership.

GeneD
4 months ago
Reply to  john wilson

Then why weren’t they running an ‘ethical decent department’? Career over oath of service?

john wilson
john wilson
4 months ago
Reply to  GeneD

because of the sycophants put in high positions, they all just served themselves…..

Mark A. Golden
Mark A. Golden
4 months ago

I have said for a while now that Chief Wilson should leave, so I will not harp on that. She has done what she has done to the Department either good or bad. I worked for the Police Department for 26 years and have seen Chiefs come and go. Some good some bad, but the City Council only selects chiefs that they can control. Their have only been a couple of chiefs that ran the department the way it should be run, “Without Political Interference”. But, alas, the City Council will not hire anyone they can not control so despite the Nation Wide Search, they will select a weak person who they can control and the problems will continue despite the removal of Chief Wilson. Tax Payers of Aurora will get yet another weak Police Administration that is controlled by City Hall for the Chief severs at the pleasure of a Politician, so he or she will play the Political Games.

Kara Mason
Admin
Kara Mason
4 months ago
Reply to  Mark A. Golden

Quick point of clarification for readers: The police chief is appointed by the city manager and confirmed by the city council. By charter they do not have the ability to “hire” such a position, and the police chief, whoever it is, will directly report to the deputy city manager.

GeneD
4 months ago
Reply to  Kara Mason

That’s why the City Manager’s hands are so dirty after this tawdry affair.

Mark A. Golden
Mark A. Golden
4 months ago
Reply to  Kara Mason

Kara, Yes the Chief works directly for the City Manager, but the City Council has a lot of say in the hiring. The City Council is suppose to go through the City’s Chain of Command, but in the real world I have worked as the Watch Commander and had City Council people call me directly and request Police information or a Police presence, and Heaven help you if you don’t accommodate them. I have had the Mayor (years ago) call directly in to have us do something about the noise in his neighborhood. I have been ordered to drop off Police Reports to City Council Members at home over the weekend. So, if they do not follow these simple rules, then what makes you think they won’t put in their nickles worth in the selection of a new chief??????????

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
4 months ago

There are 2 kinds of republicans: Those who genuinely believe in the party’s ideology and are blind to what’s really going on, and those who know perfectly well its real intention…the destruction of democracy and America. Divide and conquer. Power and control.

Publius
Publius
4 months ago
Reply to  Joe Felice

I imagine a fellow like you could come up with at least one other possibility.

Mark A. Golden
Mark A. Golden
4 months ago
Reply to  Joe Felice

I think you misspelled republicans, after reading your statement the proper spelling “Democrats”.

Billy Shields
Billy Shields
4 months ago
Reply to  Mark A. Golden

My football team better than your football team

DICK MOORE
4 months ago

She’s gone. I’m glad and I just don’t care about all the verbiage of how and why. Just one small step to begin to regain our city to safety.

The next needed step…The City Manager who acts too much like a politician instead of a business manager…then the next needed steps are to eliminate Marcano and Coombs. Only then will we be able to possibly have the makings of good leadership in Aurora.

gk puester
gk puester
4 months ago

Thank you for this editorial. Aurora city council has become a partisan rage machine. The consultant hired came with an agenda that was clearly to blacken Chief Wilson’s reputation. She never had a chance. She was hired to clean house by sweeping the dirt under the rug. With her firing it will return to monkey business as usual.

Mark A. Golden
Mark A. Golden
4 months ago
Reply to  gk puester

I replied to this comment and the Sentinel deleted for their own reasons. Needless to say I disagree with this posting and gave my reasons that disagreed with someone, so I remain sanctioned.

Factory Working Orphan
Factory Working Orphan
4 months ago
Reply to  gk puester

The council became a “partisan rage machine” when the far-left Emerge claque and Juan Marcano came on board.

Robert L Andrews
4 months ago

Citizens don’t feel safe! Because of low moral and anti-police rhetoric the APD is dangerously understaffed. Someone has to be held accountable. How about we concentrate on law enforcement to reduce crime. How are police officers responsible for rising crime? Let the police do their jobs…protect the citizens. https://www.9news.com/article/news/local/colorado-police-departments-staffing-shortages/73-4b8f5b0e-f418-4935-ad7c-56ec86b9847d

Robin Waugh
Robin Waugh
4 months ago

It is always amazing that the far left Democrates always blame the Republicans for anything that happens. Have you all not figured out yet that there is a socialist push in our cities as well as the federal level. At least the Republicans are pro police and against crime. Our city as well as our country has the highest crime rates it has ever had and it needs to stop on all levels. Things in Aurora are the worst they have ever been and I have lived in this city for 60 years and my home for 45 years. Stop blaming the police and start blaming the criminals and let the police do something about it. We the oridnary people of the city have had enough and I hope they hire someone with the common sence to stand up and make the decisions that stop all of this crime and if somepeople get their feeling hurt to bad.