AURORA, Colo. — Former Aurora Police Department (APD) Police Chief Vanessa Wilson said she disagreed with the reasons given for her firing while speaking publicly for the first time on Monday after losing her job.
"I can only go with what the city manager claimed that he fired me for, which was 'overall leadership and overall management,'" Wilson said. "To that I say, 'Sir, you are very wrong.'"
The city confirmed Wilson's firing on Wednesday after rumors had been swirling for weeks about her possible departure including a report that she planned to resign, which were disputed by her attorney.
Wilson called her firing politically motivated when explaining why she would not leave her position voluntarily as reports of her impending departure circulated.
"I have to stand up for myself," she said. "I wasn't going to go quietly into the night. I wasn't going to just accept a resignation and walk away when I know what this is driven by. This is a political agenda, and there should not be partisan politics in public safety."
Wilson said that despite feelings one way or another, the firing happened and the city must now move forward.
"It's not about me," she said. "It's about making sure we have leaders in this police department, in this city, state and across the country who are willing to stand up to the unions. That are willing to stand up to people who are doing it wrong, and who are willing to fire officers that are doing it wrong."
Wilson said the primary emphasis of the police department should be serving the community, and a willingness to address wrongs that rise above minor mistakes such as clerical errors.
"I'm not talking about a mistake of directives, I'm not talking about failing to fill out a piece of paper," she explained. "I'm talking about abusing individuals. I'm talking about lying in police reports. I'm talking about criminal behavior. It cannot, and will not and should not be in that building."
Wilson said she knew many of the reforms and other actions she put in place were not popular, but vouched for many of APD's employees and asked citizens to support them.
"This police department, right now, has men and women answering calls for service who took this oath not because of me, but because of what's in their hearts," she said. "The vast majority of the officers in the Aurora Police Department embrace the changes that are coming. They are excited about the changes that the consent decree will implement."
When asked if a lawsuit against the city is possible following her firing, Wilson said that she is considering all options.
> Watch Wilson's full comments in the video below:
Division Chief Chris Juul is temporarily overseeing operations at APD, the city said. The city management team will work to name an interim chief in the near future and also will begin a nationwide search for a permanent chief.
Aurora City Manager Jim Twombly said during a news conference last week that the decision to fire Wilson was based on interviews and evaluations of performance.
Twombly said there were two themes that popped up that were concerning: overall management and overall leadership.
Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman said last week he supported Twombly's decision to fire Wilson.
Coffman said he had concerns about Wilson's leadership as crime became an increasing issue for the city, and he cited a recent report about a backlog of cases he said compromised public safety.
Wilson's firing comes as the department is under a consent decree, a legally binding agreement that requires the department to make changes when it comes to their use of force, Fourth Amendment stops and biased policing.
The oversight came after the attorney general found APD engaged in excessive force practices and racially biased policing.
The newly hired independent consent decree monitor said while Wilson was cooperative, he doesn't believe a leadership change will disrupt the progress.
9NEWS reporters Matt Jablow and Janet Oravetz contributed to the reporting of this story.
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