AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Aurora city officials met with residents Tuesday morning as it moves forward in its search for a new police chief. The recruitment firm hired by the city heard from about 20 people.
Bob Murray & Associates led the discussion. People from the Aurora Key Community Response Team, which is a liaison between police and the community, were able to chime in about what they expect from their new chief.
Community members said they want a new chief who’s transparent, trustworthy and fair. Community policing and a better understanding of the residents in the city were some of the other goals discussed.
While some residents would like someone who knows the city to be the next chief, the city manager says an outside point of view can be good.
“A chief from the outside, sometimes they bring new ways of looking at things. They may have experience with similar issues that another department has dealt with very successfully. So my commitment in this is that we’re going to hire the best person for the job,” said Jim Twombly, the City Manager of Aurora.
The city named an interim police chief, Vanessa Wilson, in December of 2019. Twombly called her a “dedicated and proven leader who excels at building consensus and developing strong ties to the community” in a prepared statement.
Wilson filled the position after Deputy Chief Paul O’Keefe stepped away. He was slated to take over for outgoing Chief Nick Metz.
The department has come under fire after a CBS4 Brian Maass investigation uncovered questionable treatment of one of their own officers in March of 2019. Nate Meier was found by other drivers apparently drunk and passed out, in his uniform with his firearm, while his vehicle was running and in gear.
Meier was not fired or charged with DUI. O’Keefe was one of the first police officers on scene and made the decision not to pursue charges.
Metz said in an email to officers he “unequivocally” stands by his decision.
On Monday, Maass reported Aurora police officer, Annette Brook, pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and prohibited use of a weapon. Brook was caught by Colorado State Patrol in June after she crashed a 2017 Jeep Cherokee into a concrete barrier on C-470.
There will be community meetings throughout the entire hiring process, which is expected to last until May, according to the firm.
The public is invited to a voice questions and concerns at a forum Tuesday night. It begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Aurora Municipal Center.