Colorado’s Newest Police Chief Addresses Racial Bias in Aurora Police Department and Vows to ‘Do Better’

Illustration for article titled Colorado’s Newest Police Chief Addresses Racial Bias in Aurora Police Department and Vows to ‘Do Better’
Screenshot: The Associated Press

The Aurora Police Department’s new chief says that she knows the department is trash and she vows to fix it. Ok, that’s not exactly what she said, but she has made it clear that she is dedicated to getting the police officers under her command to acknowledge their racial biases and to “do better.”

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The Associated Press reports that Vanessa Wilson was officially named the APD’s first female chief this week after serving as its interim chief for some time. In an interview with AP, Wilson spoke about the death of Elijah McClain as well as a recorded incident that happened over the weekend where four Black children—the youngest of whom was six years old—were made to lie on the ground with their hands behind their backs while the woman who was their mother, aunt, and sister, respectively was led away in handcuffs all because officers thought their vehicle was stolen. SPOILER ALERT: It was not.

“It was inhumane and just unbelievable to watch,” Wilson said. “I know that people are angry and disgusted by what they saw, and so am I. I also want to tell you that a lot of our own officers are dismayed and angered about why in the world that call went that way.”

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Wilson also addressed the circumstances around the detainment of McClain—during which the 23-year-old was put in a chokehold—and specifically, the judgment officers use when responding to calls about suspicious behavior.

“I have changed the directive on suspicious-person calls so that if someone is called in as suspicious just because of the color of their skin, that officers don’t have to be robotic in their response,” Wilson stressed.

Side note: It would’ve been nice if Wilson also mentioned that Aurora police officers are being investigated for taking photos near a McClain memorial mocking the chokehold he was put in and then sending those photos to one of the officers involved in the incident that likely led to his death. But whatever, this is a start.

Wilson added that everyone in America, including police, should be aware of their implicit biases and that she thinks “the call to action across the nation has been heard loud and clear, not only for me as the chief of Aurora, but other chiefs across the nation. And we need to do better, and we need to listen to the community and give them a voice and police them the way they want to be policed.”

Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons

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DISCUSSION

I’m a Colorado native and have lived in Aurora, I can almost unequivocally say that’s not true. This isn’t a “one off,” scenario. This is APD acting as they have for decades. As we keep pointing out, the only difference is that this time someone recorded it.