Colorado Attorney General to seek consent order from Aurora Police Department after year-long investigation found racist model of policing and the use of excessive force by officers routinely violated federal and state laws .
Department officials have treated blacks and other people of color differently from whites, including arresting them and using force against them, according to the investigation released Wednesday. Officers also routinely used excessive force on people unnecessarily and failed to properly document information about the people they arrested, the investigation found.
“We observed statistically significant racial disparities – particularly with respect to blacks – in almost all significant types of police contact with the community, from interactions to arrests to use of force,” the report states. . “These disparities have persisted across income, gender and geographic boundaries. With the other information we looked at, we find that Aurora Police engage in racist police activity, 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 consent order with the Aurora Police Department that will outline the steps his office deems necessary to resolve issues uncovered by investigators.
“If this effort fails, we will seek a court order to correct these problems,” the report said.
The investigation is the first under a new law passed in the summer of 2020 as massive protests against police brutality and racism continued across Colorado after the murder of George Floyd. The bill, SB-217, gave Weiser’s office the power to conduct such an investigation and, if the agencies did not make the required changes, force them to do so through civil litigation. .
Weiser chose to investigate the Aurora Police Department following a series of high-profile allegations of police misconduct, including the death of Elijah McClain at the hands of police and Aurora paramedics in 2019.
“Elevating law enforcement and building confidence in law enforcement is a key priority for the Department of Justice,” Weiser said in a press release. “Our authority to investigate patterns and practices is an important tool in advancing this goal. In this case, our team conducted a thorough review – with the help of the full cooperation of the City of Aurora – and developed important findings on how Aurora can comply with the law and improve efficiency and the reliability of the police.
Investigators also found that Aurora Fire Rescue had a habit and practice of illegally injecting people with ketamine. On several occasions, Aurora paramedics gave people doses of the sedative that were too large for their body weight and failed to monitor them properly after the drug was administered. The department stopped using ketamine in September 2020 as multiple investigations into its use of the drug on McClain continued.
Investigators attributed the failures of the Aurora Police Department to “systemic and serious culture issues,” according to the report.
“Aurora does not create and oversee the appropriate expectations for responsible behavior, which leads to excessive use of force and violation of the civil rights of its residents,” said a press release from Wesier’s office.
For 14 months, investigators performed data analysis, spent 220 hours accompanying police and firefighters in Aurora, attended dozens of police meetings and examined body camera images. Investigators read more than 2,800 reports, spoke with residents of Aurora and interviewed employees of both agencies.