AURORA | The wallets of several Aurora cops were a little heavier last month, according to information released at a city meeting Thursday. For city taxpayers, not so much.
The Aurora Police Department doled out $26,110 in overtime pay to the officers who patrolled and investigated the “Lights For Liberty” protest at a local U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement detention center on July 12, according to information presented to the city’s public safety committee Aug. 15.
That sum is more than three times higher than the incident with the second-highest total of overtime paid in 2019; the city paid officers $8,387 in overtime to work the Fourth of July Spectacular event.
The closest overtime total to the GEO protest the city has paid in recent years was when Aurora police shelled out $19,571 in overtime to patrol Global Fest in 2017.
More than a dozen Aurora police officers patrolled the GEO protest, which drew more than 2,000 attendees.
Following the protest last month, Police Chief Nick Metz lamented GEO and ICE officials’ use of plastic chain to deter protestors from loitering on the Aurora property instead of previously recommended water-filled drums.
At one point during the gathering, a small group of rogue protestors moved past a feeble barricade and removed a trio of flags and banners from the center’s flag poles. Protestors later raised a Mexican flag, a desecrated “thin blue line” flag, and a banner that read “f**k the cops.”
The protest drew local and national scorn from an array of officials and pundits, including City Councilman Dave Gruber and Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler.
Police are still searching for several people suspected of meddling with the flags.
Late last month, Aurora police cited a 37-year-old Lakewood woman for criminal tampering the night of the protest.
— Quincy Snowdon, staff writer