Four final candidates make their pitch for Aurora police chief job

The four final candidates for the Aurora Police Department chief’s job appeared at a forum Tuesday night answering questions from the public and sharing their visions of leadership during unprecedented times.

Before the meeting, Aurora residents and members of the public submitted more than 800 questions for the candidates, many of the questions involving the death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old man who died at a hospital after a violent struggle with Aurora officers.

Candidates for the job are:

  • Vanessa Wilson, the department’s interim chief.
  • Marcus Dudley Jr., an Aurora police commander who heads the internal affairs bureau.
  • Alexander Jones, a colonel and bureau chief at the Baltimore County Police Department.
  • Avery Moore, assistant police chief at the Dallas Police Department.

During two-minute introductions all the candidates talked about the importance of community and police relations and the need to build trust and transform the department into a reflection of the community.

“When I chose to join the police department, I felt a passion to serve my community as a person of color and a resident of Aurora,” said Dudley, who has been with the department for 23 years and who has lived in Aurora for 28 years.

Jones, in the introduction, said Aurora faces many of the same “challenges” as his department in Baltimore.

“I can make Aurora a better place,” Jones said. “I am suited to become a chief here, I understand the challenges and hope to do an excellent job.”

One question, read by moderator Regan Williams, came from a mother of a child who said she lies in bed at night and is “numb” to the gunfire she hears in northwest Aurora. She asked what the new chief will do to make her safe.

“This boils down to trust,” Wilson said. “They have to feel trust to call the police and know they are not going to be treated differently due to the color of their skin or their immigration status.”

Moore said he’d “apologize” to the woman who feels numb because “everyone has a right to safe in their community.” He too, like Wilson, said he’d urge the woman to call 911 for help and to get involved in community meetings. “Crime is everybody’s business. Community involvement is important. We shouldn’t be numb to gunshot fire. It is wrong, it is against the law. Bullets stray and innocent people are killed.”

The candidates were asked to respond to the community outrage driven by the death of McClain.

Moore said he’d “make sure it was a complete and thorough investigation” and he’d make “decisions based on the outcome of those investigations.”

Wilson, the interim chief, said she’s attended Elijah McClain rallies and met with activists, “listened to their anger and to their pain. We can change the way we do business. There is sweeping police reform, it is time for us to listen to people.”

Dudley was commander of Aurora police internal affairs during the McClain incident and investigation.

“Elijah McClain is a tragic case,” he said. “It is tragic for the family, I understand they are angry and frustrated.”

Reviewing police body camera footage of the incident with McClain’s family was “one of the most difficult things I ever had to do.”

McClain’s death has had a “tremendous impact on our department. People are still grieving.”

Jones said the death McClain was a “truly tragic event. Something no community or police department should have to go through.”

Jones said as chief he put policies in place, such as “not stopping people illegally” and not using “unnecessary” force as a way to avoid fatal incidents involving police and the public.

The Aurora City Manager, Jim Twombly, plans to make a recommendation on the final candidate to city council for it’s consideration in July. Twombly’s choice, made with input of council members, the public and city managers, has to be ratified by city council.

Source: Read Full Article