AURORA, Colo. — A long list of issues are circulating within the Aurora Police Department (APD), but the department has made it clear that they are working to improve.
"There's been numerous reports and investigations that have been produced about issues in the Aurora Police Department,” APD Deputy Chief Darin Parker said.
On Sept. 15, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser released a report saying APD has a pattern and practice of racially biased policing, use of excessive force, and failing to document stops as required. This led the department to enter into a consent decree with the state which is a first for Colorado.
"We've been doing a lot of things, but there's going to be more to this process as we enter into what the consent decree agreement is going to look like – what those recommendations are going to be,” Parker said.
At the same time, APD is dealing with a critical staffing shortage.
“It is concerning because again it comes back to the ability for officers to do their job safely and have enough officers to be able to look out for each other," Parker said.
The department currently has 683 sworn officers.
There were 114 officers who left the department from September 2020 to September 2021; 55 resigned, 45 retired, six were terminated, four went on medical retirement, two transferred to career services, and two died.
“When we are not able to staff patrol effectively again it represents a problem, for the community and our ability to deliver the service they deserve. And it affects our ability to keep our officers safe,” Parker said.
To make up for the shortage, other officers are working overtime.
A total of 577 hours were logged during the month of August. From Sept. 1 to Sept. 17, 281 hours were logged.
As overtime continues its uptick, those at the top are working to improve the hiring process lead by the Civil Service Commission to prevent burnout. Currently, the chief and deputy chief has no say in the hiring process, but they’d like that to change.
“We’ve long desired to be more involved in the hiring process for basic recruits – for basic officers. And more specifically, what we'd really like to be involved in is some type of an oral, board interview process where we can meet face to face with the applicants,” Parker said.
The hope is to meet face to face with applicants and ask questions that can't be answered on paper.
"It gives them an opportunity for them to tell us who they are better than just an application or a background investigation packet.” Parker said. “And no hiring process is going to be a perfect predictor of future behavior or conduct," Parker said. "But we do believe that more involvement is going to reduce the risk or the chances of having or hiring people that are going to present problems for us down the road.”
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