AURORA, Colo. — Starting next year, Aurora’s police chief will have final say on new officers hired within the department.
The city’s Civil Service Commission, which previously had sole power to hire cops in Aurora, elected to cede this power back to the police department at a special meeting Tuesday. The city’s Human Resources Department will also have involvement in the hiring process.
The move follows multiple Denver7 Investigates reports into questionable hiring practices for police officers in Aurora.
One recent report highlighted how the commission lowered hiring standards for a psychological examination with no record to explain the changes.
Aurora Civil Service Commission Chair Desmond McNeal said the commission will move into an oversight role. Candidates eliminated from the process will also be able to appeal to the commission.
“I agree with the changes,” he said. “I think this is the best practice moving forward and it’s consistent with what they’re doing across the country.”
Commissioners were hesitant to give up hiring power, but McNeal said the changes are part of mandated improvements required by the state.
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser ordered a consent decree for Aurora Police in 2021 after finding racially-biased policing and use-of-force violations.
In the same year, the commission was under fire for hiring now former officer John Haubert, despite knowing he had a misdemeanor gun charge on his record. Haubert resigned and was later fired after pistol whipping and choking a suspect, an incident that was caught on body-worn camera.
But McNeal said he doesn’t feel the changes are a result of previous mistakes, but rather are an improvement in the process.
Aurora City Councilwoman Danielle Jurinsky, who chairs the city’s Public Safety Committee, said she is happy with the changes.
“I think it shows that they’re trying. I think it shows that they hear us. And I think it shows that they’re wanting to be good partners,” she said. “Now you will have police officers hiring police officers, not just good stewards of the community trying to do the best that they can.”
McNeal said the commission will continue to look at data to review the process and if the changes are ineffective, more changes will come.
The exact details of the changes are still being worked out and will take effect in 2024.