'I think we can come together': Aurora FOP and Department at odds, seeking resolution

'I think we can come together,' Aurora FOP and Department at odds
Posted at 9:38 PM, Sep 28, 2021

AURORA, Colo. — Following several high-profile incidents like the death of Elijah McClain and the arrest of Kyle Vinson, the Aurora Police Department has felt pressure to improve its policing practices.

In those efforts, some say the agency has lost trust with its officers.

"We are representing a unified front in the stance of having no confidence in the chief's office," said Marc Sears, president of FOP Lodge 49.

Lodge 49 is the official negotiating arm of the Aurora Police Department.

On Sept. 24, following the announcement that an internal affairs investigationwould reexamine the May 15 arrest of Preston Nunn III, the union released a statement saying, in part, "this has lead (sic) to the bargaining unit informing city management that it lacks confidence in the Chief’s Office."

That same day, Nunn held a press conference telling journalists "when he approached the car and asked for my license, registration and insurance, which I was ready to provide for him, he didn't give me to time to provide it, he just over pressed the whole situation."

According to APD, the arrest had already been reviewed by the their Force Review Board back in June. The board's final recommendation was for the officer to have additional training.

Chief Vanessa Wilson said she opened an internal affairs investigation this month out of an "abundance of caution."

Sears said he believes Wilson's decision sends the wrong message to officers and members of the FRB. The FRB consists of members ranking from officer to division chief.

"You're already seeing it. You're already seeing the officers be very cautious about when they use force or get involved," Sears said.

Sears did applaud Wilson's efforts to rebuild trust with the community but expressed that it didn't need to come at the expense of officers.

Others, like Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver, praised the chief's decision. Herod sponsored the sweeping police accountability bill passed into law last year.

"I applaud Chief Wilson’s decision to open an IA investigation into the treatment of Preston Nunn. It is clear to me that Wilson is taking this situation very seriously, appropriately so, and putting the safety of the citizens of Aurora first." Herod said in a statement.

Despite differing opinions, Sears remained confident all parties can find a resolution.

"I think we can come together as professionals if we put some egos aside. We're all a little humble at a certain level, and it's not impossible," he said.

Denver7 requested the official findings done by APD's Force Review Board following Nunn's arrest, a department spokesperson said the findings could not be released due to the active internal affairs investigation. The spokesperson also said the department is looking to improve procedures involving the review of use-of-force incidents.