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Aurora's newest interim police chief takes over

Art Acevedo said establishing priorities on how best to fight crime in Aurora will be his first order of business.

AURORA, Colo — Art Acevedo, Aurora's new interim police chief, said on Friday that his first order of business is determining how best to fight the city's rise in crime given the department's shortage of officers.

"We're going to focus on violent crime, and then we also need to take a look at traffic safety because fatalities are up in the city," Acevedo said.

A 35-year law enforcement veteran, Acevedo previously led departments in Austin, Houston and Miami. He took over this week in Aurora from Dan Oates, the former full-time chief who led the department on an interim basis since May, as the city continues to search for a permanent police chief.

Acevedo said he expects to have a comprehensive crime plan in place by the end of January – a plan that could result in officers being shifted to different units. He said the key to success will be making sure his officers know what's expected of them.

"What I love about cops is that when the play is called, they'll run it," he said. "But it's up to the coaching staff to do the assessment, put the play together, give them the equipment, the training, the policies and procedures, and let them run."

He said a major part of his job in Aurora will be improving officer morale and rebuilding the relationship with the community after several years of negative publicity, much of it the result of Elijah McClain's death in police custody in 2019.

"It was a tragedy for the family, it was a tragedy for those officers, it was a tragedy for everyone," Acevedo said. "As a parent, as a father, as a human being, a Christian, a person of faith, my heart goes out that family, my heart goes out to everybody involved. We have got to digest, dissect, review to see what could we have done differently."

Acevedo has an open-ended contract that pays him about $21,000 a month. When asked whether he wants the job full-time, he said he's not focused on that right now and that it will happen if it's meant to be.

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