Aurora PD has pattern of racially biased policing, state probe finds

Colorado’s attorney general will require the Aurora Police Department to make massive changes after a year-long investigation found officers’ pattern of racially biased policing and use of excessive force routinely violated state and federal law.

The department’s officers treated Black people and other people of color differently than white people, including arresting and using force against them, according to the investigation released Wednesday. Officers also routinely used excessive force against people unnecessarily and failed to properly document information about people they stopped, the investigation found.

“We observed statistically significant racial disparities — especially with respect to Black individuals — in nearly every important type of police contact with the community, from interactions to arrests to uses of force,” the report states. “These disparities persisted across income, gender and geographic boundaries. Together with the other information we reviewed, we find that Aurora Police engages in racially biased policing, treating people of color (and Black people in particular) differently from their white counterparts.”

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser will seek to create a legally binding agreement, known as a consent decree, with the Aurora Police Department that will outline the steps his office believes necessary to fix the problems investigators discovered. State law gives the attorney general’s office and city administrators 60 days to come to an agreement.

“If this effort is unsuccessful, we will seek a court-imposed order correcting these problems,” the report states.

The investigation is the first under a new law passed in the summer of 2020 as large-scale protests against police brutality and racism continued across Colorado following the murder of George Floyd. The bill, SB-217, gave Weiser’s office the authority to conduct such an investigation and, if agencies didn’t make the required changes, to force them to do so via civil litigation.

Weiser said at a Wednesday news conference that the patterns and practice investigation his office conducted into Aurora’s department is one of the first such investigations in the United States conducted by a state agency. The U.S. Department of Justice for years has conducted similar investigations and implemented consent decrees.

Rep. Leslie Herod, the Denver Democrat who sponsored the bill, applauded the attorney general’s investigation.

“This should be a lesson to other agencies that they need to put policies in place that protect their communities or they will be investigated,” she said.

Weiser chose the Aurora Police Department as the first agency to be investigated following a series of high-profile allegations of police misconduct, including the death of Elijah McClain at the hands of Aurora police and paramedics in 2019.

“In the months following the passage of this law, the Aurora community made clear that it had concerns about the Aurora Police Department and its fire department,” Weiser said.

McClain’s mother, Sheneen McClain, said the report “confirms what many Aurora residents already know — Aurora’s police department has a long-standing culture of violence and bias.” She also called on Aurora to enter into the consent decree and for Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman to resign, according to a statement released by her attorney, Qusair Mohamedbhai.

Investigators also found …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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