AURORA, Colo. — Just two weeks after taking the position of Interim Chief of the Aurora Police Department, Vanessa Wilson said regaining the trust of the community is one of her biggest challenges.
"It takes seconds to ruin a reputation," said Wilson. "We’ve worked really, really hard in this community and I believe the majority of this community still believes in us. Even if they’re angry, they still believe in us."
This comes after two Aurora Police officers were found drunk behind the wheel of their cars on two separate occasions.
Officer Annette Brook was sentenced to 20 days of in-home detention Monday for a DUI that happened in Douglas County in June. Nate Meier, the officer who was found asleep in his unmarked patrol car by members of the Aurora Police Department (APD), was not given a DUI and still works at Aurora Police.
"There isn’t a double standard," said Wilson. "No one is above the law. We should be held accountable to the law. The incidents were handled differently. There’s not a double standard, they were just handled differently."
The Public Information Officer who sat in on the interview didn’t want us asking these questions, but Wilson appeared happy to answer them. 9NEWS did not agree to any preconditions for this interview.
Here is a transcript of the conversation:
Marc Sallinger, 9NEWS: Officer Brook was arrested in Douglas County. CSP and Douglas County handled it differently than Aurora Police.
Interim Chief Wilson: They handled it correctly.
Sallinger: Aurora Police handled it wrong?
Wilson: Like I said, I can’t say that at this point. It’s under investigation. It would be inappropriate and improper to give my opinion.
Sallinger: But is there a double standard?
Officer Matthew Longshore, Aurora Police Public Information Officer: Marc, we talked about these.
Sallinger: You’re interrupting?
Longshore: I am.
Sallinger: I can ask the questions if we want to. Respectfully, I’ll ask the questions, she doesn’t have to answer if she doesn’t want to.
Wilson: Go ahead, it’s okay.
Sallinger: Is there a double standard?
Wilson: There isn’t a double standard. No one is above the law. We should be held accountable to the law. The incidents were handled differently. There’s not a double standard, they were just handled differently.
Watch the full, raw interview:
Wilson also spoke to 9NEWS about youth violence in Aurora, a problem she said is also one of her biggest challenges.
"It’s shocking and it’s something I think the entire community is saying, 'What’s going on?'" Wilson said. "I know it’s a problem, but I think we have the answer within our own community, within our own community leaders.
I’m trying to set up a meeting with some youth organizations, and I want to just go sit and talk to them. 'Tell me what it is that you need. What can we do to help, and what can we do to help you believe in the police department?'"
Monday, Aurora Police arrested a 16-year-old involved in a shooting that injured five people. Wilson said there may be more suspects involved.
"There were five people, all juveniles or young adults, up to the age of 19, that had been shot," said Wilson. "They started life-saving measures immediately until AFD arrived, and we were able to get them to the hospital. I believe they saved lives that night."
This comes after police said an 18-year-old shot and killed a 17-year-old at the Aurora Mall last month.
"We’ve increased patrol right now because we want the vendors, the people, the public that are coming there to spend their money," said Wilson. "We don’t want a mall in our community that has metal detectors. That’s not what we’re looking for. If you look at things that happen every day at the 16th Street Mall, this isn’t specific to Aurora. Downtown Denver has had similar incidents of violence."
Thursday, community leaders will meet with the police department and members of the Aurora Mall to discuss safety.
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