AURORA, Colo. — Aurora residents say the 14-month investigation by the Colorado Department of Law revealed what they already knew: Officers in the Aurora Police Department were abusing their power, and Black people were disproportionately impacted.
Lindsay Minter took to the streets and even led protests to champion equality and justice for Elijah McClain. She launched a class-action lawsuit against the City of Aurora and officers following a clash during a violin vigil honoring McClain.
Minter read the findings of the investigation as soon as they were released to the public. She was surprised to see her lawsuit mentioned in the report, but not shocked by the disturbing findings she had been fighting to correct.
“The most diversity and the most racist city, like how can we do that?” Minter said.
According to the report, officers used force against people of color 2.5 times more compared to white people, based on population, and almost half who experienced use of force were Black.
Minter was appointed to the Community Police Task Force in 2020. The team was put in place by the Aurora City Council. The goal was to develop ideas and create recommendations for the police department’s practices and operations. It also aimed to improve communications between the community and the police department.
“We thought we were going to create actual change and to create change to completion,” Minter said.
The task force presented a list of ideas Minter said Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson incorporated in her plan to restore trust in the police department, "A New Way." Minter felt the task force didn’t receive credit for their ideas.
The task force was dismantled nine months after it was appointed. It’s unclear why the team was taken off its duty and who made the decision.
Now, with an investigation concluding officers used excessive force and racially biased tactics, Minter wants the Community Police Task Force re-instated.
“I think it brings energy. I think it brings the opportunity for the community to actually step up and be a part of the change,” Minter said.
The first item on her checklist is stripping power away from the Aurora Civil Service Commission. The commission hires police officers without input from the police department and “overturns disciplinary actions in high-profile cases in a way that undermines the chief’s authority,” according to the Attorney General’s office.
Aurora city councilman Juan Marcano believes it’s time to “clean house.”
“I would like to see us completely restructure the Civil Service Commission,” Marcano said. "I think that the chief of police needs to have hiring authority over new officers and trainees.”
He fully supports the state’s recommendation to enter into a consent decree to change the department's policies, training, record keeping and hiring practices.
“Our community deserves so much better than what they are getting right now,” Marcano said. “I think we need to have a citizen accountability board for law enforcement activity when it is warranted.”
He said he wants to do more than change policing. He wants to reimagine public safety and create a more equitable Aurora.
Marcano supports bringing back the Community Policing Task Force. He said a colleague is working on a resolution to re-appoint the task force.
Minter believes she has a job to finish to help ensure the safety of her community.
“Without certain elements that we’ve suggested, I don’t believe the government can fix itself,” Minter said.