Aurora lawmakers to decide on $8K police retention bonuses, ‘privately funded’ position to increase academy diversity

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FILE PHOTO : An Aurora police officer prepares to go on his shift from Police Headquarters in Aurora.
Heather A. Longway/ The Aurora Sentinel

AURORA | The Aurora City Council Monday evening will consider funding retention bonuses for local police officers and decide whether to support a “privately-funded” contract position to enhance police academy diversity.

Mayor Mike Coffman is pitching the contract position that would “assist APD with enhancing diversity in its academy classes and sworn personnel” via a resolution, which only signals support. It’s not a binding contract. 

It’s unclear in the resolution which private entity would fund the position or how much it would cost.

Increasing the number of minority police officers and firefighters was included in the consent decree between the city of Aurora and the Colorado Attorney General’s office earlier this year.

An analysis conducted by the city’s civil service commission in 2020 found that in recent years only 1.1% of Black applicants who met the minimum qualifications to be hired onto the city’s police force were admitted to the academy, compared to 4.24% of white applicants, 3% of Hispanic applicants and 3.6% of Asian applicants who make it through the lengthy vetting process.

Council members will also vote whether to pay a retention bonus of $8,000 to each “uniformed officer” in the Aurora Police Department. 

The money, American Rescue Plan Act funds, would be paid out in two installments in 2022. Federal pandemic  funds have previously been used to pay first responders working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Officers leaving for other departments, some in the metro area, has been a big conversation over the last few years.

A total of 87 police personnel left or were jettisoned from the department in 2020  — more departures than in 2015 and 2016 combined — bumping the organization’s turnover rate to nearly 20% for the year.

Aurora police averaged a turnover rate just north of 6.5% in the six years prior to 2020, according to departmental data reported by the Sentinel in February. 

The department currently employees just shy of 1,000 people, about 750 of which are sworn civil servants. The current reported staffing levels still keep the city in compliance with its longstanding charter mandate to maintain two uniformed police personnel per 1,000 residents, though the ratio was reduced following union negotiations in the early 2010s.

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Doug King
6 months ago

I still have questions about this ‘socialist money giveaway’ (conservatives where are your vocalizations????) AND IF they go through with this, any officer who accepts the money in my opinion MUST sign binding agreement to remain in the APD for a specified period of time!!! 2 years???

Publius
Publius
6 months ago

So the Department responsible for a 15 million dollar judgment against the City gets a bonus.

Publius
Publius
6 months ago

Will the bonuses be paid to officers who pistol-whipped the individual on camara? What about to those who forced children doen onto hot summer blacktop for riding in a car with a license plate number similar to a stolen motorcycle’s license plate in another state? How about to an officer who fell asleep, drunk, in a cruiser in an intersection? Will bonuses be paid to officers who laughed at photos mocking the death of Elijah McClain? How about to officers denigrating citizens to the union membership? Will the officer who got the Department sued for allowing a restrained woman to be transported face down in the back of a squad car who had fallen from the seat get a bonus? Sure, most of the Department is peopled by consciencious officers who are a credit to the uniform, but some, a handful, like the proverbial bad apple, spoil the whole barrel and yet they too are to be rewarded. Yes retention and recruitment is a problem. That said Council just rewarded a Department who had a record award against them. An award which will cost the City $15,000,000.00. That award will reverberate for years. It will cost other employees in other departments raises for many years as that money is gone forever, yet they get a bonus. Where is the accountability? Where is the perspective? How about making the bonus contingent on performance? Maybe give it to those who have not had any disciplinary actions against them for a three-year period. Maybe more to those who have recieved affirmative commendations. Far too little thought went into this.