- A probe into the Aurora Police Department found it has a pattern of racially biased policing.
- The probe comes after Elijah McClain’s death in 2019 after police put him in a chokehold.
- The department has 60 days to work with the state to fix the systemic issues.
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A probe by the Colorado attorney general’s office into the Aurora Police Department, following the death of Elijah McClain, found there is a pattern of racially biased policing in the department.
Attorney General Phil Weiser announced Wednesday a Colorado Department of Law investigation team found the Aurora Police Department “has a pattern and practice of violating state and federal law through racially biased policing, using excessive force, and failing to record legally required information when interacting with the community,” according to the press release.
The probe into Aurora’s police department comes after the death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Colorado man who died in 2019 after police put him in a chokehold.
In August 2020, Weiser enacted Senate Bill 20-217, which allows the AG to investigate any government agency that violates the state’s laws. He chose to look into both the Aurora Police and Aurora Fire based on “multiple community reports” of misconduct.
The report shows consistent illegal behavior across multiple levels of the department, the press release said.
“Aurora does not create and oversee appropriate expectations for responsible behavior, which leads to the use of excessive force and the violation of the civil rights of its residents,” according to the report.
Probe investigators found Aurora Police disproportionately arrested nonwhite members of the community. Black members were arrested two times more than white members, and people of color were arrested 1.3 times more often.
In those arrests, the police department used force against people of color 2.5 times more than they did against whites. Nearly half of the people Aurora police used force against were Black when only 15% of the community is made up of Black people, according to the Force Review Board’s annual use-of-force reports.
Additionally, the report found Aurora has “not updated practices on documenting contacts with members of public as required by SB-217, and officers continue to make stops without documenting them as the law requires the investigative team found.”
Investigations also found racial bias in the recruiting process as well, stating the officers hired did not match the racial makeup of the community.
“For example,” the report stated, “only 1.1% of Black applicants (5 out of 454), as compared to 4.2% of white applicants (119 out of 2,809), who met minimum qualifications, were offered a job.”
The Department of Law encourages the Aurora Police Department to work with them over the next 60 days to implement changes into their program that will reverse these racially biased practices.