By Brian Maass

DENVER (CBS4) – Harold Johnson, a former Denver Fire Department Captain, will remain on Aurora’s Civil Service Commission over the strenuous objections of some Aurora City Council members who just last month voted to put Johnson on the powerful commission.

“He is absolutely unqualified for this position,” said Mayor Mike Coffman at a Monday night City Council meeting. “He has virtually no integrity.”

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By a 6-5 vote, Aurora City Council reaffirmed their decision to make Johnson one of five civil service commissioners, tasked with overseeing discipline in the police and fire departments.

Johnson was with the Denver Fire Department for more than two decades, rising to the rank of Captain. In 2015, the department fired him for 13 rule violations. Johnson disputed the firing, but said he did not have the resources to fight the city.

Harold Johnson (credit: Tony Rivera)

He applied to become an Aurora Civil Service commission member and was approved in  February by a unanimous city council vote. Councilmembers said at the time, they were completely unaware of his past history with Denver.

During his interview, Johnson said of his time with Denver, “When I retired I left with the rank of Captain.”

Only after his appointment, some councilmembers saw news articles regarding his departure from Denver, and they admitted they had no clue.

Councilmember Francoise Bergan said, “I had no idea” Johnson had been terminated in Denver.

Others said they felt Johnson misled them about his separation from DFD.

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“Mr. Johnson did misrepresent how he left the City and County of Denver” said councilman Dave Gruber.

Bergan said, “He lied on the application, lied in the interview. We are making a mistake.”

The attempt to recall the appointment fell short Monday night with some council members saying they had spoken to Johnson recently.

“He will be good on the commission,” said council member Angela Lawson.

Nicole Johnston said she believed Johnson’s version of events of his departure from Denver Fire and would not support removing him from the commission. Councilman Juan Marcano said he initially wanted to remove Johnson, but had changed his mind.

“We don’t know everything that took place in Denver,” said Marcano.

Contacted by CBS4, Johnson said, “I have no comment other than to say that I look forward to
working with the other commissioners in the service of the citizens and the City of Aurora.”

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Several councilmembers voiced concern at their process for hiring civil service commissioners and the lack of background research. A spokesperson for the City of Aurora told CBS4 that hiring process is now under review.

Brian Maass