AURORA, Colo. — Aurora's police department is working to make the department more transparent. And right now, they're required to do so under a consent decree, a legal settlement forcing reforms in the district.
Soon, the department will launch an online transparency portal, giving community members a better look at how the department is run.
"We serve the community, we're here for the community and it is the expectation that we provide this information to them as we should," said Chris Juul, Aurora Police Department Division Chief of Professional Standards and Training.
In a matter of months, APD will launch the new portal. Juul said it will be a one-stop shop for the public to find information on everything from department demographics to officer complaints and use of force.
"This has been a long time coming," Juul said. "And the ability for them to look at this information themselves without feeling like there's anything behind the curtain is important for the community to build that accountability, to build that trust."
Jeff Schlanger, Independent Consent Decree Monitor for the city of Aurora, said while they're not required to launch a portal, improving transparency is a consent decree requirement for APD.
“I think one of the major findings of the attorney general’s investigation was a lack of transparency in many of the processes and statistics and incidents which essentially gave rise to the consent decree,” Schlanger said. "So correcting that deficiency is one of the foundational elements of making sure Aurora PD gets back on the right track."
But beyond the requirement, Juul said launching this portal is the right step forward for the department and the community.
"We've always collected a lot of data, we haven't always been good about turning that data around into something usable," Juul said. "So this really gives us also an internal platform to set benchmarks with regard to what do our uses of force look like, what are our agency demographics? And then when we start seeing variations in those things, once we have that benchmark we can look and see what is the reason for that variation? Is it explainable? Do we have a problem? Do we have a training issue? It gives us the information we need to make ourselves better."
Schlanger said they'll evaluate the transparency portal once it's ready, making sure APD hits the right benchmarks with the site. Once it launches, Schlanger said he expects the portal will serve as a critical next step for helping rebuild community trust.
"The foundation which is put in place now is meant to long outlast the consent decree and the monitor. And it is essential in fact to make sure the reforms which are being complied with from the consent decree indeed lasts well beyond it," Schlanger said.
Aurora Police are still working through the design and layout of the site but they're hoping to launch it piece by piece, likely starting in November. Police say they're hoping to have the transparency portal fully up and running by the end of the year.
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