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Independent monitor releases first report on Aurora consent decree

Independent monitor IntegrAssure found the city is in "substantial compliance" of nine of 36 assessed mandates in the consent decree.

AURORA, Colo. — An independent monitor will hold a town hall in Aurora on Aug. 9 after releasing its first report assessing the city's progress in meeting mandates set by the consent decree.

The consent decree is a legal settlement aimed at fixing how Aurora Police Department officers use force and interact with people of color. 

The decree creates three goals: to reduce racial disparities with how police arrest and use force; to be more transparent about arrests and using force; and to improve training for officers.

RELATED: Aurora City Council approves consent decree

IntegrAssure issued the first of 12 public reports finding the city to be in "substantial compliance" of nine of 36 mandates that were assessed. There are 70 mandates in total.

The 341-page report from the Florida-based consulting firm "outlined the efforts made to establish clear expectations and goals for the city and how the city is doing on the 36 consent decree mandates it assessed in the reporting period."

The nine mandates found to be in substantial compliance involved Aurora Fire Rescue's use of chemical sedatives, and the Civil Service Commission's selection of an expert to aid in its work on recruitment, hiring and promotion.

"The remaining examined mandates involved the areas of policy and training, racial bias in policing, use of force and documentation of stops, some of which are on a cautionary track due to concerns on lack of governance over policy and training development," IntegrAssure said in a release.

The full report can be found on the consent decree monitor's website.

RELATED: Aurora cop says paramedics were to blame for Elijah McClain's death

In the legal agreement, the city agreed to implement different reforms with certain time frames. The reform process began after the Colorado Attorney General investigated the Aurora Police Department and Aurora Fire Rescue in 2020. The AG report found APD had engaged in a pattern and practice of racially biased policing against people of color as a whole and Black people in particular; using force excessively; and failing to document all vehicle and pedestrian stops, as required by state law.

The AG report also found that AFR was engaged in a pattern and practice of using ketamine, a chemical sedative, in violation of the law. AFR stopped using ketamine after the death of Elijah McClain in 2019.

This first report from the independent monitor found the city and its agencies had begun working on the implementation of the mandated reforms in the consent decree.

"The city and each of the constituent agencies have been extremely cooperative in the process," said Jeff Schlanger, president and CEO of IntegrAssure.

Schlanger said his team didn't have any concerns with the city's progress, but he said there were some concerns about certain processes that APD is already making significant headway on. 

The report highlighted an incident in May 2021 where practices and accountability didn't go as well as they should have. According to the report, an APD officer, with about 18 months on the job, stopped a car he said almost hit him while conducting a separate traffic stop. 

When the officer asked for his license, the report said, the driver quickly reached into the front waistband of his sweatpants. The officer drew his firearm when he thought the driver could be reaching for a weapon, according to the report. 

Another responding officer took down the driver when he got out of the car. Four officers and the driver struggled, the report said, and the original officer used his taser. 

The Force Review Board reviewed the incident in June 2021 and said the officer should receive additional training. The independent monitor found the board failed to look at the officer's history, which would have shown a significant incident a month earlier, and said the board's review should have been more critical.

In general, the independent group said the board focuses much of its review on whether the use of force was lawful and within policy, and has less discussion about the necessity and reasonableness of the use of force. 

The IntegrAssure team will discuss the report at an in-person, hybrid and livestreamed public town hall meeting at 6:30 p.m.  Aug. 9 at the Beck Recreation Center at 800 Telluride St.

IntegrAssure said it will provide an overview of the first report, solicit community feedback and answer questions. The Community Advisory Council will moderate the question and answer session.

Anyone interested in asking questions can submit them in advance by emailing connect@auroramonitor.org or by filling or the "contact us" form on IntegrAssure's website.

RELATED: Former Aurora Police chief to lead department on interim basis

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