By Brian Maass

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – It didn’t take Dan Oates long to start making changes as he stepped into the role of acting Aurora police chief. Sworn in last Thursday, that same evening he sent an email to all Aurora officers, sparked by the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

He told officers the department’s active threat policy was murky.

“I believe the policy is less than clear. That our officers must immediately address an active threat, even if this means confronting the threat as a solo officer.”

CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass interviews Dan Oates. (credit: CBS)

The APD policy on active shooters was immediately changed to read, “In the event that a solo uniformed sworn APD officer is first on scene and reasonably believes that a suspect is actively engaged in shooting other persons or the suspect still poses an immediate threat, the officer shall enter the location and immediately take all reasonable and necessary actions to stop the threat.”

Speaking to CBS4 Tuesday morning, as part of a round of media interviews, Oates said, “That’s something I did immediately.”

He said after just five days back at the Aurora Police Department, “I already see opportunities for some low hanging fruit. Some early wins to make people feel better about the work we can do.”

Oates served as APD Chief from 2005 to 2014. He says he was approached about serving as interim chief following the firing of Vanessa Wilson in April.

Asked what went wrong with the department between 2014 and 2022, Oates said, “I’m not sure. When I left here we were firing on all cylinders. I’m not sure what happened.”

He has agreed to serve as Chief of the troubled department for approximately six months.

Although he was reticent to criticize those who came after him, Oates said, “I will tell you generally that in policing, leadership is everything and we’re all accountable as leaders for the performance of our agencies.”

He said he was already mulling over ways to address Aurora’s rising crime rates.

(credit: CBS)

Oates said he believed auto thefts are a precursor to more violent crimes so he indicated an interest in addressing car thefts.

“Can get to it fairly quickly,” said Oates.

He also said he was interested in re-establishing specialized units to address violent crime. Regarding the record number of officers who left the agency in 2021, Oates was asked how he would slow the exodus.

“I’m not sure,” he responded. “I’m quietly looking at some of the cops who left in recent months and seeing if they would consider coming back.”

He said some other department members, eligible to retire, had told him they would postpone their retirements. Oates said he would spend the next three to four weeks meeting with department members.

“I’ve got to show as a leader, the reforms we’re engaging in are worthy and make this a better place. I need to convey that message.”

Brian Maass