AURORA, Colo. — Like many law enforcement agencies around the country, Aurora Police is recruiting now to fill a staff shortage in the department.
They're finding new ways to bring in a diverse and qualified group of candidates under the department's consent decree.
In the heart of Aurora, families celebrated the city's diversity Saturday afternoon at Global Fest.
For Aurora Police, it's a recruiting opportunity to speak with people in the crowd as they try to ensure the force represents the entire community.
"We're looking for good, qualified folks that are here and find them from the diverse pool of residents we have in the metro area who could be good police officers," said Officer Abdul Syidi, a police recruiter for Aurora Police.
APD recently completed an 80-page recruiting plan required under the consent decree that was issued for the department after Elijah McClain's death. The decree is aimed to fix how Aurora Police officers use force and interact with people of color.
“It’s something that came about a few months ago, we’ve been working on it. I think it’s just revamping a lot of the programs we’ve had and some new ideas as well that’s been put into it. A lot of it is from community involvement, we’re trying to take that into consideration – what our community wants to see,” Officer Syidi said. “I think this revamp has gotten a lot of people’s attention, right, and I think we’re getting a lot more support and recruitment and I think that’s what’s changed. But I think the need has always been there."
"The consent decree is really all about instilling a culture about continuous improvement," said Jeff Schlanger, an independent consent decree monitor for the City of Aurora.
For the past year and a half, Schlanger and his firm IntegrAssure have worked to make sure the police department is following the consent decree - helping the department to draft new policies and procedures in areas like biased policing and use of force.
Now, they're helping APD to bring in the next generation of officers.
"We expect a class size coming in September far greater than those that have preceded it. Typically class sizes have been in the low double digits or single digits even and we expect a class size of at least 40 come the next class," Schlanger said.
Officer Syidi says the police department needs to reflect the community to be successful.
"I think it breaks barriers," Syidi said. "It's a lot easier to talk to a human being directly in front of you trying to listen you, sympathize and empathize with what's going on compared to maybe handing a phone to someone saying oh sorry can you talk to this stranger, they want to know what happened to you. And it's really difficult to get that line of trust. But I think when you're there and you speak the same language, I think it goes far."
A chorus of voices in Aurora have long called for change within the department are now getting the chance to get involved and help move APD forward.
Officer Syidi said along with Global Fest, they've been working with explorer programs, colleges, universities, the military and houses of worship to help bring in a pool of candidates to the department that will represent the entire community of Aurora. That plan, he said, is already helping them reach a wider range of people in the community who are ready and willing to put on the badge and serve.
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