AURORA, Colo. — Aurora’s Consent Decree Independent Monitor recently issued its fifth progress report outlining where the city stands on its goals toward improving public safety.
In February 2022, the Aurora Police Department (APD) and Aurora Fire Rescue (AFR) formally entered into an agreement or consent decree focused on improving policies and officer training following the 2019 death of Elijah McClain.
Jeff Schlanger, the independent monitor who works for the company IntegrAssure, said the department of safety, which APD and AFR is a part of, is making progress.
“What we found generally, is that the department continued to make progress in meeting its obligations under the consent decree," Schlanger said. "And, in fact, 31 mandates were found to be in substantial compliance this reporting period. That was in addition to nine mandates that previously had been determined to be in substantial compliance. So, a total of 40 now of approximately 78 mandates are in substantial compliance. Other mandates are on their way to substantial compliance."
However, the city is out of compliance with several mandates, including data collection.
“Use of force data and more extensive collection relative to various data points for uses of force — that really is the most important one that we're looking at," Schlanger said. "And we'll be coming out with a report soon from the National Policing Institute. That will deal with its examination of historic data, but also make recommendations relative to the collection of additional data going forward."
The progress report states “APD currently cannot automatically retrieve an officer’s use of force history from its system. Additionally, APD cannot reliably identify the exact number of use of force allegations that were sustained against an officer, due to lack of mandatory reporting fields in AIM. APD’s own audit of its historical internal investigations and citizen complaints investigations, found that it was unable to identify outcomes due to incomplete data submitted to the AIM system.”
The report goes on to state the department has a hired a Project Manager and “a data scientist was also hired at the end of August to assist the project manager and APD in better understanding its existing legacy systems and how best to migrate historical data into its new systems. With this data scientist’s assistance, APD’s data transition should progress more expeditiously.”
The president of Aurora’s NAACP branch and member of the Aurora Community Advisory Council Omar Montgomery said he has mixed feelings about the report.
“I’m extremely concerned, and probably been the strong voice behind that,” Montgomery said. “According to what was told to us, data collection in general, with the Aurora Police Department wasn't centralized… That has been the strong concern for the citizens advisory committee that works with the consent decree. We have been pushing that this is something that needs to be done immediately, to have transparency for the community, so that community can know what exactly is taking place when it comes to police abuse cases, and be able to track the result of it.”
Montgomery said the report also mentioned the department missed a Feb. 15 deadline for bias training.
“I'm disappointed and at the same time, it was brought to us that they want to find the vendor that can do it right. I guess there was concerns about the previous vendor or the current vendor. So hopefully, that is something that can be done quickly,” Montgomery said.
The consent decree consists of a five-year plan for Aurora to be in compliance with the mandates.
Montgomery and Schlanger said the process is a marathon not a sprint, but it’s important for the city to work toward full compliance of the consent decree.