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Another finalist withdraws from Aurora police chief search

On Sept. 21, the city named three finalists for the position. One of them withdrew almost immediately, and another withdrew after a three-day interview process.

AURORA, Colo. — The City of Aurora is extending the search for its next police chief after one of the two remaining finalists dropped out following a three-day interview process.

On Sept. 21, the city named three finalists for the police chief position. One of them withdrew almost immediately. The other two -- Scott Ebner and David Franklin -- met with city management, city council members and business leaders during a selection process that also included a meet-and-greet with community members

Franklin withdrew his application after going through the three-day process.

The city said it "will continue its search" for a new chief. City spokesperson Ryan Luby said it's too early to determine whether Ebner and the rest of the candidates who initially applied will still be considered. He said there is "much assessment left to do" about the next steps in the process.

The city hired California-based recruiting firm Public Sector Search & Consulting to conduct the initial search. Luby said it's not yet clear whether the city will use the same firm going forward. 

Before former Police Chief Vanessa Wilson was fired, the department was already reeling from several high-profile cases of alleged excessive force, most notably the death of Elijah McClain, which led to an agreement, or consent decree, that requires major reforms to the department's practices and policies.

The city said they received a total of 21 applications during the two months the job listing was posted. Two of them withdrew early in the process, the city said. 

The city said the initial pool included seven applicants who were women or people of color. Two of them were selected for semi-finalist interviews, the city said.

The two finalists, both white men, were from outside Colorado. Ebner is the Deputy Superintendent of Administration for New Jersey State Police. Franklin is the Chief of Staff at the Albuquerque Police Department.

When the two finalists were announced, Jason McBride, a secondary violence prevention specialist with the Struggle of Love Foundation and a member of Aurora's Community Police Task Force, said he found the final selections "frustrating."

"I just felt like we have wasted two or three years of trying to build that department back up from when Elijah McClain was murdered to, you know, through George Floyd and everything that we dealt with to now. Nothing has changed," he said. 

He also stressed the importance of representation in positions of power.

"I think if you bring a new chief in, that chief must know the unique issues that face Aurora. And it being one of America's most diverse cities, the department, should reflect what Aurora boasts about – being a diverse community," McBride said at the time. 

The mother of Elijah McClain, Sheneen McClain, also said at the time that she was disappointed with the city's picks.

"It's unfortunate that Aurora Colorado police department chooses to stick to the bro code mentality that murdered my son in 2019, nothing and no one can save that Department from itself, it will always have Elijah McClain’s blood on their hands and staining their uniforms," Sheneen McClain said in a statement at the time. "No amount of controlling solidarity can change the truth, the apple orchard is corrupt."

At a meet-and-greet with the finalists, many community members asked how they would build trust in the community after Elijah McClain's death. 

“I greatly appreciate the time the finalists spent with our community,”  Aurora City Manager Jim Twombly said in a statement Tuesday. “Over the last week, I listened to a lot of feedback from community members and City Council members who want us to continue the search for a variety of reasons, and I support that. We all – city management, the City Council and the community want the best person for the job who will address crime in Aurora and lead the Aurora Police Department to be racially equitable, bias-free, culturally competent and responsive to all residents.” 

Aurora’s city charter requires the city manager to hire a police chief and receive approval from the majority of the Aurora City Council.

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