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Aurora mayor, police defend delayed response to reported DUI crash

Community activists renew calls for police reform
aurora delayed dui crash response.jpg
Posted at 7:25 PM, Jun 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-29 11:42:00-04

AURORA, Colo. — Aurora's mayor and police department are defending their response to a reported DUI crash Friday night.

They aren't denying a driver might have been drunk, and they admit it took police a long time to arrive on scene.

They said the department had calls that were a higher priority they had to respond to.

Before the crash this weekend, Nestor Guillan has always backed the blue in Aurora.

"Whenever you have an emergency, you call 911. You're depending on those guys to come no matter what," Guillan said.

But early Saturday morning, he was involved in a crash on his way home from work with a man he said appeared to be intoxicated.

"His speech was slurred. He had a 12-pack of Corona, maybe two of them, and he's tossing out empty beer bottles and cans," said Guillan, who has photos showing a beer can outside the driver's side door and Corona boxes apparently thrown into a nearby field.

Guillan said he was depending on the Aurora Police Department to respond after he said a drunk driver caused the crash.

He took photos and reported that information to police on two 911 calls, but he said instead of a quick police response, he waited for almost two hours. He finally gave up and headed home, believing police would not arrive.

APD spokesman Matthew Longshore said the shift was fully staffed, but he blamed the delayed response on a surge in higher priority calls at that time in that district.

"Some of those [calls] involved robbery with a weapon and assault with injuries, a domestic violence call, another fight call," said Longshore. "Those are four Priority 1 examples that came in that hour alone."

Meanwhile, Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman also defended the decision.

Coffman said the shift was fully staffed, but, in this instance, it was the high volume of calls that caused the problem, not an officer shortage, which meant difficult decisions had to be made.

"I think that the fact that there were not injuries, the fact that information was exchanged. No doubt in a perfect world, we would hope that this would be addressed, but it's not in a perfect world." Coffman said. "It's unfortunate that we can't be everywhere at once when there's a surge in calls that are priority calls, but that's the reality that we're confronted with."

But Candice Bailey, who calls herself an Aurora community "actionist," said APD has come under fire for a reason.

"We have city officials coming out and saying, 'It's okay, they were just too busy.' It is clearly not okay," Bailey said. "The police are not showing up in District One, in District Two, and if they are not showing up, of course our crime rate continues to increase because they are not doing their job."

Guillan said the other driver in his crash "had all the time in the world to sober up" before police arrived, and he now understands the calls for police reform.

"I am looking to move for sure. I don't even want to stay here. I don't feel too safe," Guillan said. "Something needs to change."