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Aurora’s new interim chief of police vows to ‘work on keeping violent crime down’

Heather Morris was sworn in as new interim chief of police during a ceremony at the Aurora Municipal Center Monday
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Posted at 4:04 PM, Jan 22, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-23 19:21:23-05

AURORA, Colo. – Aurora’s new interim chief of police – the third person to occupy the post since the tumultuous ouster of former chief of police Vanessa Wilson in early 2022 – vowed to work on keeping violent crime down across the city during a swearing in ceremony Monday.

Morris told reporters gathered at the Aurora Municipal Center that keeping crime down, moving forward with the city’s Consent Decree and getting new people into the force will be some of the biggest challenges she’ll contend with in her new role as interim chief.

“We’ll keep doing what’s working, and then we’ll be making changes anywhere (where changes) need to be made so that we can keep our crime down,” she said. “And, of course, retention. Working on retention and keeping our folks here.”

Those goals are in line with what city council and Mayor Mike Coffman himself expect of the new interim chief, he told Denver7 Tuesday.

“But also, implementing some of the programs that are relatively new that interim chief (Art) Acevedo set up that we’ve just relatively recently adopted,” Coffman said.

Morris, who began her career with the Houston Police Department before the turn of the millennium before retiring as assistant chief in 2021, thanked outgoing interim chief Acevedo for his leadership during his time with the department because he came to Aurora, she said, “to do a job, not to keep a job.”.

“And that was really profound for me because that was so unlike any other leadership that I had ever experienced,” she told Acevedo. “Everybody knows that I’m devastated that you’re leaving.”

Morris told reporters that becoming interim chief was a really great opportunity and told Aurora police leadership that she wasn’t going to be able to do everything alone. “I have all of you to help me,” she said.

Asked whether she would like to become the permanent chief of the police department, Morris said she would “entertain any opportunities” as she thinks Aurora has a really great police department, but whether that ends up happening depends on a majority of city council, according to Hoffman.

“So whether we want to go through a long process or do a national search as part of the process, that could still happen,” he said.

For now, Morris said, she’s thankful for the successes the Aurora Police Department has had over the past several year and thanked the men and women in blue for putting in the work, saying she was really proud of every single one of them.

“I've worn the Houston Police Department uniform and I've worn them Miami Police Department uniform, and now, I’m wearing the Aurora Police Department uniform,” Morris told Denver7. “And I'm proud of the men and women in this department and I'm proud to wear this uniform.”

Denver 7+ Colorado News Latest Headlines | January 22, 11am

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