PERRY: Aurora Police Department problems are so bad, someone should call the cops — somewhere else

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This screen grab from Aurora police body cam video shows Officer Nathan Meier passed out behind the wheel of his police car as fellow officers try to extract him. An investigation later determined that Meier had passed out from drinking. SENTINEL FILE PHOTO

Aurora residents, and anyone who must venture here, will surely take great comfort in hearing that cops who punch disabled women in the face, or who pass out drunk in their police cars and get promoted, “are inconsistent with the Aurora Police Department’s core values.”

That was the message the city’s latest interim police chief, Art Acevedo, imparted to a freshly disgusted community that equates “Aurora Police Department” with “Dumpster Fire.”

At this point, it’s that exclamation, not Acevedo’s euphemism, that better describes the sheer skulduggery and outright horror that erupts from APD like Old Faithful.

“Thar she blows,” was the observation from the media deck this week when word leaked out that one of the cops who has helped make APD the world-infamous entity it has become was back in the news.

Officer — nay, Agent, now — Nathan Meier is the celebrity Aurora cop who in 2019 had vodka for breakfast before starting his shift at APD. He had so much breakfast that he passed out drunk in his locked police car and had to be extricated by fellow officers and medics.

Despite committing one of the most spectacular DUIs of all time in Aurora, then-Officer Meier faced no charges for drunken driving to the place he parked his car and passed out, on duty. 

As the sordid tale spilled into the public, it became clear some police administrators wanted to help out Meier by keeping it all on the down low.

Even the DA at the time speculated that had you and yours been discovered passed out drunk in your car along the road, you would most certainly have been given a free ride to the local drinky drunky holding cell. At the very least, you would have had enough blood pulled from your arm at the local ER to convict you at an inconvenient later date.

All this and more resulted in shake-ups in the chief’s office. It led to APD veteran Vanessa Wilson becoming the interim, then permanent police chief.

One of the first things Wilson did is make it clear the handling of the Meier get-out-of-having-to-go-to-jail debacle would be thoroughly investigated.

And the former interim chief tied into the mess suddenly resigned from the department.

Meier, however, as we all learned this week, did not.

Sources say that it wasn’t as if no one at APD tried to push Meier off of the force. Supervisors apparently worked to at least keep Meier from a cop job where anyone might recognize him or where he would have to show up in court.

“Your honor, the officer on my client’s stolen-gun-attempted-robbery-and-animal-cruelty charges is Nate Meier.”

The familiar ring from the bench would be, “case dismissed.”

Now, unable to fire him — because, well, there were no charges in the case, and he might have just been really sleepy — Meier was sent to places in APD where he wouldn’t make a mess or headlines.

Until this week.

He applied for, and was apparently bestowed, a promotion in rank from officer to agent, as part of the civil service system in the city.

Acevedo, and even some conservative city lawmakers who have taken to social media to beg Meier to turn down the promotion, say the city had no choice under current city regs but to bestow the new rank and salary increase. 

“I actually had him come into my office, and we had a very frank conversation,” Acevedo told CBS news during an interview focusing on Meier’s promotion. “He as the individual has actually done what he was supposed to do, which is turn his life around. … I believe it saved his life, as a person.”

That’s nice.

The problem Acevedo and too many other police and city officials fail to appreciate is that Meier is a police officer, who should be held to higher standards than the general public. Or in the case of Aurora Police, he should be held to at least the same standards.

Meier, justly, forfeited his credibility as a guy in Aurora who gets to carry a loaded gun and enforce the law.

While shooting dead his own integrity, he also inflicted collateral damage to a department where other cops stay sober on the job and have no tolerance for those who don’t.

Aurora Police now forfeit their own gasping credibility by promoting him, and certainly by defending the promotion, or not exclaiming something even worse.

And of course there was worse, again. 

“There she blows” was the call from the media as news leaked out later this week that Aurora Police Officer Douglas Harroun, 32, had been charged with the off-duty felony assault against an at-risk adult.

I have to admit, nothing distracts a public horrified by promoting drunken cops like another cop who punches a disabled woman several times in the face because he thought she was mouthy about walking her dog slowly in the parking lot as he rode up behind her in his car.

Add this to the list of APD highlights, like forcing a car filled with Black women and girls face down on scorching pavement after a bungled, erroneous stolen car check. And the time an Aurora cop pistol whipped a Black guy during a call on possible vagrancy. And there was the time a cop shot a guy in the butt through his living room window.

Last spring, after firing Wilson — apparently because conservative police-toadies on city council thought Wilson was too tough on cops who make the department so infamous — Aurora brought back former chief Dan Oates for a six-month stint.

Wilson brandished an image of upholding the promise to Aurora — after state officials and courts mandated reform — the police department would finally become “accountable and transparent.”

Oates, not so much. In fact, not at all.

In that short amount of time, Oates:

  • quietly detached the strategic Community Relations unit from the chief’s immediate command.
  • discretely fired and then immediately un-fired a newly hired cop that was arrested in Arkansas for a drunken brawling incident.
  • unilaterally refused to discipline a top police commander embroiled in a dubious scheme with another APD officer to sneak into an estranged spouse’s house, violating a restraining order, get stuff and then put it back. Rather than discipline the officer after conviction by the Internal Affairs Unit, and the Chief’s Review Board, Oates eradicated the entire review board, ignored the IA investigators and promoted the commander to division chief. Then, he carved into the IA unit.

If not for reporters at the Sentinel and CBS4 News, you’d never know any of that.

Do you see a pattern here? Maybe a “pattern and practices” problem the state Attorney General called out when forcing Aurora into a consent decree to reform the police department, or else?

Obviously, those leading the Aurora City Council, city hall and the police department don’t see this as serious of a problem as the rest of the world does.

It’s nice that Acevedo says that the cops keeping Aurora’s dumpster fire in the headlines all the time don’t represent the “core values” of the department.

But they absolutely represent what most people think the Aurora police department is all about, and continues to be.

It’s too bad that police union officials and their city-council sycophants think their police chief shouldn’t talk tough about these debacles, and fire cops who get arrested for anything, or behave like the criminals they’re charged with arresting. 

Perpetuating Aurora’s repugnant “patterns and practices” of defending criminal and malfeasant cops only continues to impugn and discourage the vast majority of APD cops who know better, act better and deserve better than this vapid tragedy of errors.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Mastadon, Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected]

 

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None-ya
None-ya
14 days ago

More trash from the sentinel…great job, Dave 🙄

None-ya
None-ya
14 days ago

Another piss poor article written by the trash sentinel. Too bad we don’t live near water where they could wrap fish with this crappy paper…because that’s all it’s really good for.

Roman
Roman
14 days ago
Reply to  None-ya

Why is it trash? Because it shines a light on what’s actually happening?? Says a lot about whobyou are!

Jim S
Jim S
13 days ago
Reply to  None-ya

It appears the Sentinel is giving you fits. Why bother commenting on something you consider “crappy?” The only thing crappy is your comment and blood pressure which is bad for your health. Go elsewhere and enjoy life for a change.

iamsomebody
iamsomebody
12 days ago
Reply to  Jim S

They are just a boot licker and one of those that worships the police.

Jeff Brown
Jeff Brown
14 days ago

Is it time to take to take control of the Police Chief’s position away from council entirely? Should Aurora maybe move to an elected Sheriff system? We could replace the part-time council with a more effective full-time board of commissioners while we’re at it. Eliminating city government has cost saving advantages, clearly.

If no, Ranked Choice Voting would certainly tame the extremism that got us here. Just imagine an intelligent council where ideologies are treated for what they are.

Do Aurorans want problems actually solved or extremist ideas worshipped and more angertainment?

Something’s gotta change.

Doug
Doug
14 days ago
Reply to  Jeff Brown

Elected chief? Ok with guiderails: public background, simplify a recall, rank voting YES and for the city council!! Board of commissioners?

anne
anne
14 days ago
Reply to  Doug

Aurora would need to become its own county to do that which is a great idea, but has been voted down in the past.

Blaze
Blaze
14 days ago

Higher standards, yep, let’s keep that in mind the next time a sitting city council member is caught DUI like former CM Nicole Johnston was, or gets into a drunken fistfight at the local Top Golf, like Sheriff Tyler Brown did. Both got less than a slap on the wrist and no fixation by the Sentinel, who endorsed both of these progressive democrats.

Doug
Doug
14 days ago
Reply to  Blaze

Did not know. Sounds like a no win situation for him though. Now what?

J L
J L
14 days ago

More pro Wilson Rhetoric from Perry. Dave, you have no idea what it was like to have her as a boss. The meltdowns, the hysterics, ineffective understanding of criminal behaviors and crime prevention…I could go on and on. To deal with the two faced nonsense that is her. She showed the public this kind, honest caring person and showed her officers the opposite. Her short stint as Chief was because she was incapable of leading this agency and lacked the integrity personally and professionally. She was great at being a politician and that is something she should consider for her future as her and Santos have a lot in common. Dig deeper Dave and you yourself would find all the cover ups but you would rather just maintain her as the rainbow queen but that is poor journalism.

Roman
Roman
14 days ago
Reply to  J L

Wow, she must have busted you for being crooked, eh? Or one of your buddies??. We all know who they are. 2 are sitting in the Chiefs office and one got demoted to commander, got there by there corruptions and lying to jurisnsky, zvonic and sunberg. They are all corrupt.

Don Black
Don Black
13 days ago
Reply to  Roman

You obviously are not a person who deals in objective critical examination of issues.

J Walter
J Walter
14 days ago

I’m pretty confused…if I get stopped by an Aurora cop, what do I do? Will I be safe and respected because I’m old, white and female? Are we only hearing about abuses of non-white folks, or are they the only ones being targeted? Do we have a racist department problem, or an overall one? I have always said that people go in to law enforcement for one of two reasons-they are either truly good and want to help, OR they are BULLIES WHO WANT TO HAVE GUNS. seems like Aurora hires the second group.

Susan
Susan
14 days ago

Thanks for reporting this and bringing facts out in the open. The APD is in a world of disarray, with no end in sight. The City needs to get its act together and find a Chief who has the integrity and ability to save the department, while doing what’s right for Aurora citizens. And some City Council members need to do what’s right and start representing their constituents instead of their own self interests.

floyd hebert
floyd hebert
14 days ago

Does the City of Aurora and/or the employee/police unions make treatment programs available for their workers to get help for substance abuse disease?
Can or did Officer/Agent Meier get that help? And the post-treatment assistance and supervision?
Employee Assistance, yes? If not available, it would seem unfair to fire a sick person, and possibly illegal.
Is help available for employees? I hope so – we could cover their 6 while they cover our 12-3-6-9.

Don Black
Don Black
13 days ago

In any organization you will find people who should not be there. It is far worse when you have leadership who lack any ethics and give no strong ethical example to the people in the organization. APD and the city government have lacked ethics for a long time. Whenever we brought misconduct by our superiors to the notice of the mayor or city manager, it was ignored. We could not expose it to the public without getting fired. That sad management within the department continued to show favoritism to those they liked and discipline to those they disliked. They created a long lasting sick system of management. It perpetuated itself. Those who kept their mouths shut were rewarded. The few racist officers (I do mean few) were protected as long as the administration liked them. I know because I reported at least one of them who later became my supervisor. When I reported misconduct like a captain slapping one of my officers, it was ignored. Vanessa Wilson was simply a politician who kept her mouth shut. She was not competent and she had her own problems with alcohol and hysterics.

The vast majority of the officers simply ignore the bad management and try to do their jobs. Over time, I can find bad examples in any group. There are many thousands of deaths from medical mistakes and incompetence every year. If you look at a stretch of time, you can find enough crimes committed by the medical people (rape, murder, etc) to condemn them forever. Now, if you exaggerate cases, you can make it look far worse. So, when the Attorney General and the Sentinel ignore facts in a few cases, it make it worse for everyone. The children put down on the ground were not victims of racism. They were victims of policy and poor judgment in using policy. You can’t put together enough police racists in Aurora to put a group of black children on the ground out of racial hatred. You need to look at how the people are trained and understand that those smooth talking people you make chiefs are not doing their jobs.

How about Elijah McClain. Sad, but Elijah resisted as is clear. The officers did nothing wrong in their use of force. I have watched the video many times. The latest medical expert has said that the officers did nothing that caused his death. He was not tortured at any point like the hysterical media proposes. It was a sad coming together of an innocent person who simply should have known to cooperate. The picture painted by the media of murderous racist cops will likely lead to more unfortunate deaths by black people who fail to cooperate.

Let us look at the highly emotional case of the officer who pistol whipped a suspect. He was not being arrested for vagrancy. He was being arrested because he had a felony parole violation warrant for a violent crime (strangulation). He resisted from the start. He continued fighting until tased by other officers who arrived due to an emergency call for help from the officers. It made great political theater for Chief Wilson to come on TV and appear like a strong caring leader. What is not seen is the rush to judgment where she threw her own officers under the bus. Charges were filed before all the evidence was even looked at. A different video shows the suspect trying to take the officer’s gun before he was hit. Grabbing him by the throat was the only way the officer could keep the suspect away from his gun. The detective ignored all of the witness statements and the lies told by the suspect and filed charges before even looking at the video that would have cleared the officer. As a former supervisor and detective, I was appalled at the lack of ethics and investigatory incompetence. I wonder who that benefitted.

Do you think that the officers did not want the drunken officer fired when he embarrassed the entire agency? Often the police unions are forced to defend officers not because they are innocent, but because the heads of the department violate every policy to fire them. It is the vindictive approach taken by police management that cause much of the resistance. When I policed on the street, I made sure that the people I dealt with knew that it was not personal.

What none of you understand is that giving a police department a smooth talking politician for a chief does not endear you to the officers. The vast majority of police chiefs have gotten to where they are by keeping their mouths shut about problems within the department. The officers know this. They know they are not getting someone they can respect. I went before Council and suggested that they have an open forum where people interested in the Chief’s job could openly debate before the public. The public only gets the same canned feel good answers from the people the City picks.

Let me expand upon the problem now. The City has bought into the fairy tale that APD is simply a racist group. They have bought into a costly consent decree that is warped in intent. Now, they are trying to follow the goal of making stops and arrests proportionate by race. That is simply not possible if the officers are doing their jobs properly. It is taboo is say that. We cannot admit that black people are disproportionately involved in crime. We have to ignore the studies and our own eyes (watch the looting). We have to inject race into policing. So, the police know that you all want to pursue a lie and make them the scapegoats for your social activism. Further, you want them to try to police under a horribly flawed knee jerk police reform bill that gives vague, impossible guidelines to the police. You have no idea how many flaws there are in the bill. Again, it is taboo to talk about. My example about what kind of politician who makes chief can be demonstrated by the fact that no chief is talking about the problems with the police reform bill. Did you know that the police cannot do simple things to protect themselves under the law? Did you know that the police can no longer push a disorderly crowd away even when some of them are looting and destroying businesses? The wording under the chokehold section implies that an officer could be charged by simply lying on the resisting suspect. The bill establishes silly guidelines were guidelines already existed. The punishments for officers are subject to abuse like that shown by Chief Wilson in the case of the officer hitting the suspect with his gun. The bill encourages officers to report other officers even if the force was not excessive. In today’s world, the officer has to worry about being charged criminally if the media later decides that something was excessive. When the police legal advisors tell the officers that they don’t know what the law says, we have a problem. You can’t put officers out there without clear guidelines and the threat to imprison them if the don’t follow your vague guidance.

The legislature and the mayors are talking about steps to address crime. This is ridiculous when you consider that they just forced thousands of good officers to leave because of their horribly flawed police reform bill. They have forced the police to not make stops and then they want more laws. Who is going to enforce them under this vague police reform bill?

So, we have a dilemma. We are pursuing dishonest goals and we want to condemn the police for resisting. Who is lacking in ethics in this situation?

mack
mack
13 days ago
Reply to  Don Black

don black, one sad person!!!

Don Black
Don Black
13 days ago
Reply to  mack

You wouldn’t have any idea, would you?

Good Citizen
Good Citizen
13 days ago
Reply to  Don Black

Think about how long you were double taxed in reference to this bum.
You not only paid taxes yourself, but taxes were withdrawn from the salary that was stolen by Don. Ask him to justify the money that was poured into his pockets over the years with real world, documented results. For every time that he got a raise or a promotion, were they required to produce documented results of success in lowering crime rates? No, not anecdotal stories about how everybody loves them because they wear a clown costumes, but actual numbers, the sort that real workers have to produce to even justify their continued employment. They will tell you that that responsible taxpayers that want this sort of information have some sort of beef with police. ” You must have gotten a ticket” “Do you have any warrants?”, etc. Match that up with the bootlicking, phony conservatives that allow themselves and me to be ripped off and you have a perfect storm of theft from the boys in blue.

Don Black
Don Black
13 days ago
Reply to  Don Black

He didn’t beg for his life. Hard to argue with people who just throw out exaggerations. He was scared and confused, yes. He did not understand what was happening to him. That, unfortunately, meant that he struggled immediately and gave no time for talk. I am sure that he was gentle soul at heart. That is the tragedy in law enforcement. Too often, the person being contacted gives the officer no time to deescalate or use reason. If you haven’t been involved in thousands of arrests, you really don’t have any understanding of the dynamics involved.

MileHigh
MileHigh
13 days ago

True to form, Aurora PD just hired a former Glendale officer who shot and killed a driver for which Glendale PAID to settle the case. I think calling Aurora PD a dumpster fire is complimenting it.

Tom Bell
Tom Bell
13 days ago

Saying the cops killed Elijah McClain is disingenuous, because we know he was killed by an EMT who gave McClain a lethal dose of ketamine. The cops didn’t kill him, they just held him down while the technician gave him a hot shot.

FactsOverFeelings
FactsOverFeelings
13 days ago
Reply to  Tom Bell

Saying the cops DIDN’T kill Elijah McClain is also disingenuous. He was completely innocent, walking along and minding his own business. If they hadn’t stopped him without cause he’d be alive today. If they hadn’t restrained him for no reason, he’d be alive today. If they hadn’t asked paramedics to dose a completely innocent person with ketamine, he’d be alive today.

mack
mack
13 days ago

APD will get what they get when they get it, and its coming!!!!!!!!!

Noneya
Noneya
13 days ago

Dave is just trying his best to get attention by attacking others he should be sued

M D
M D
13 days ago

A lot of bootlicker in the comments. You’re better of with the criminals if this is how your police operate.

iamsomebody
iamsomebody
12 days ago

I agree 100%. We don’t call the police in our neigborhood in Aurora. They show up an hour late and just fill out a report tell you they can ‘only send one squad out at a time’. When you have an interaction with APS, you are always assumed to be a criminal no matter what the interaction is for. There is no ‘crime fighting’ involved. It’s BS, and we have no confidence in APS.