By Ben Warwick

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – The Aurora Police Department saw a major spike in officers leaving the department in 2020. A total of 87 officers were fired or left last year, according to data that will be presented to an Aurora City Council panel on Thursday.

(credit: CBS)

The data shows civil service turnover in the Aurora Fire and Aurora Police Departments. Turnover for Aurora Fire Rescue was at its lowest level in seven years, with just 23 employees leaving the department. That’s 5.3% of the workforce. The data paints a much different story at the Aurora Police Department, however. In 2020, 87 employees left, comparted to just 54 in 2019, an increase of more than 60%.

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The turnover rate for Aurora police went from 5.4% in 2019 to 19.9% in 2020. The latest firing came on Feb. 11, when Chief of Police Vanessa Wilson fired Officer Robert Rosen for an excessive force incident last summer. Officer Rosen was one of nine terminations that came in 2020. 31 officers resigned from the department, 40 retired, three retired due to medical conditions, three transferred to other city positions, and one officer died outside of the line of duty.

So far in 2021, two commissioned officers have been fired, 12 have retired, nine have resigned, and one has resigned due to medical conditions. Two of the officers who resigned were recruits.

RELATED: Aurora Police Officer Robert Rosen Fired For Using Excessive Force

Doug Wilkinson, President of the Aurora Police Association, told CBS4 the trends of officers leaving the department is not slowing down.

“The Department attrition of the last two years, and the first few months of this year, represents a dramatic increase over the average of the previous 10 years,” Wilkinson said. “It does not appear that this trend is slowing down. There are a number of reasons for this including an older than average Department membership, low morale, and a desire to flee the state. I expect these pressures to increase.”

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Aurora police told CBS4 they would need to review the data before commenting on the rate.

The data and upcoming presentation come on the heels of the release of an independent panel’s investigation into the events surrounding the death of Elijah McClain in August 2019, in which investigators found that officers unnecessarily escalated the situation when they stopped McClain, and that excessive and unneeded force was used. Three officers involved in the McClain incident were fired for taking derogatory photos at the McClain memorial mocking the carotid hold was in.

(courtesy: Aurora Police)

In August 2020, the department was embroiled in another scandal, this time involving the erroneous accusation and detention of a Black family, including two young girls, over a vehicle misidentified as stolen.

RELATED: Woman Describes Kids Getting Handcuffed By Aurora Police In Video That Went Viral: ‘I’m Livid’

A breakdown of the departures from Aurora police show that only 23% of those who left the department, or 36 officers, gave a reason for leaving. Of those 36, 6 retired, 5 cited “working conditions,” 5 cited leadership, and 5 claimed “other.” Other mitigating factors for departure were dissatisfaction with pay and benefits, health problems, lack of growth, or a career change.

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So far in 2021, nearly 20 employees have left the Aurora Police Department. At Aurora Fire Rescue, two employees have left so far in 2021.

Ben Warwick