Aurora Council votes to reinstate their reserve police force

The city shut down the reserve officer program in 2005 due to a lack of interest.
3 min. read
An Aurora police cruiser outside the Town Center at Aurora mall on Friday, Dec. 27, 2019.
An Aurora police cruiser outside the Town Center at Aurora mall on Friday, Dec. 27, 2019.
Kevin J. Beaty / Denverite

Aurora city officials are considering reinstating their reserve police force due to staff shortages at the city's police department. The City Council approved the proposal 9-1 on the first reading Monday. City Councilwoman Crystal Murillo was the lone dissenting vote. The ordinance is sponsored by City Councilwoman Danielle Jurinsky.

"This is actually a very restrictive program that's gonna focus on the right set of individuals that we would want to serve our city that have a track record," Interim Aurora Police Chief Art Acevedo said. "It's going to be a program that's going to give a lot to our community. It's going to be a program that I think eventually will save lives."

The city shut down the reserve officer program in 2005 as part of a City code "clean-up" initiative. The Aurora Police Department also cited that interest "dwindled to almost zero" around the early 2000s. 

According to the ordinance, those appointed to the program will be considered unpaid volunteers and not city employees. The ordinance also requires applicants go through the same hiring process as the lateral police department, with the police chief having the final say.

City Public Safety Client Manager for the City Attorney's Office Pete Schulte says the reserve officers would also need reserve certification from the Colorado Peace Officer Standard and Training (POST) Board. 

"If they don't have a full peace officer certification, they can't work by themselves. They have to be with the full-time officer," said Schulte, who is also a former reserve police officer. "It gives them the ability to protect themselves by being armed and to protect our citizens if they're out finding themselves in situations where things could happen."

Current city employees, people associated with the Tactical Medic Program, members in good standing in the Aurora Police Department Police Officer Cadet Program and people with at least five years of law enforcement experience are authorized to be appointed as reserve police officers. Those with a law enforcement background must have left their agencies in good standing, have no prior disciplinary history while working as an officer greater than a written reprimand and be Colorado POST certified as a basic peace officer. 

While city officials see the positives in bringing back the program, some community members were concerned. 

"I support the intent behind the ordinance. But there are a lot of problems with the ordinance," said resident Aaron Futrell, who referenced the police killings of black teens Paul Childs, Elijah McClain, and, most recently, Jor'dell Richardson.

The ordinance is the latest in a series of controversial headlines by the city of Aurora related to law enforcement. Recently, the city voted to suspend its mutual aid agreement with Denver over a settlement with George Floyd protesters. The police department has also come under scrutiny over their release of video related to the police killing of Richardson.

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