AURORA, Colo. — The Aurora Police Department’s deputy chief is withdrawing from consideration for the role of interim chief and plans to retire amid controversy over the department’s handling of an officer found intoxicated and passed out behind the wheel of his patrol vehicle.
Deputy Chief Paul O’Keefe sent an email to Aurora’s deputy city manager requesting to be removed from consideration, saying it’s “in the best interest” of the department where he's worked for 24 years.
“It is my intention that by removing myself from this interim position, that the men and women of the Aurora Police Department will ultimately be able to move beyond the negative depiction currently being broadcast and be recognized for the exceptional professionals that they truly are,” O’Keefe wrote.
O’Keefe was the first officer to respond when Agent Nate Meier was found passed out behind the wheel of an unmarked police car in the middle of East Mississippi Avenue, near the South entrance to Buckley Air Force Base, on March 29.
Officers reported smelling alcohol and Meier later admitted to drinking vodka that day while on duty, but Meier was never investigated for driving under the influence. Aurora’s city manager has since called for an independent investigation.
At the end of his email, O’Keefe expressed his intention to retire on March 31.
The current chief of police, Nick Metz, plans to retire at the end of 2019.