Chief hired to reform America’s worst police department fired; did the police union get her?

Aurora, Colorado, arguably has America’s worst police department. Its cops are infamous. Their own chief calls them “despicable.”

So begins a posting I wrote last year (read it here). Then, Aurora PD was back in the news because of yet another police brutality incident. Now, because the city manager has just fired the police chief who was hired two years ago to clean up the mess (read story here). Vanessa Wilson was an internal hire, who spent 20 years working her way up in the department before becoming chief.

The local newspaper immediately cried foul (here), calling her sacking “a political hit job.” They said conservative Republicans on the city council “have worked diligently to undermine Wilson in a clear effort to stop critical police reform in the city.” Those council members demanded “new leadership.” Among their stated reasons was “tanking officer morale” (see story here). The Aurora Police Association wanted her gone, too. (Its boss was among the officers Wilson had fired.)

“Wilson acknowledged that her decisions to fire more than 12 officers over the course of her tenure were not always popular and angered the … unions. But leadership isn’t about popularity, she said. Policing needs leaders ‘that are willing to stand up to the unions, that are willing to stand up to people who are doing it wrong, and are willing to fire officers who are doing it wrong.'”

Wilson says those cops weren’t fired for trivial offenses. “I’m not talking about a mistake with directives, I’m not talking about failing to fill out a piece of paper,” she said. “I’m talking about abusing individuals, I’m talking about lying in police reports, I’m talking about criminal behavior.” Aurora’s police have a national reputation for violence and brutality.

Not all of the cops were against her reform efforts. One called the firings justified. “Which of the officers she fired do you want patrolling your streets?” he asked.

Wilson’s firing followed an “audit” by a Florida firm whose CEO “regularly posts his disdain for police reform, Black Lives Matters, liberals, President Joe Biden, vaccination mandates, those who protest police brutality, ‘woke’ community leaders and even schools for teaching history he disapproves of” on social media.

“Why a city like Aurora — in the thick of state mandated police reform and trying to dig out from under of a mountain of documented police scandals, many of them focusing on systemic racism — would hire a consultant who is a self-proclaimed warrior against police reform, Black Lives Matters demands and other ‘woke’ concerns, is befuddling,” the newspaper said. Why? Simple. To give them cover for a decision they’ve already made to rid their city of a police reformer.

It’s unclear what happens next. The Aurora police are under a consent decree and court-ordering monitoring. “It could result in the state or federal government moving in to take over a police department that refuses to properly and lawfully take care of its citizens,” the newspaper said.

Frankly, I think that should happen now. Meanwhile, don’t elect Republicans to your city council until they clean up their act.

Related story: Read here about a disgustingly racist New Jersey town run by — you guessed it — a Republican mayor and a town council of seven Republicans.

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