In 2020, the Attorney General of Colorado, Philip J. Weiser, appointed a team to investigate whether the Aurora Police Department and Aurora Fire Rescue had exhibited a pattern and practice of violating state and federal law. The investigation, the first of its kind under Senate Bill 217 (a law enforcement accountability bill enacted in the summer of 2020 in the wake of large-scale protests against police brutality following the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer), focused on police stops, arrests, uses of force, and possible discrimination in enforcement activities conducted by the Aurora Police Department and Aurora Fire Rescue.
Compass Lexecon, along with Dr. David K. A. Mordecai and Samantha Kappagoda of Risk Economics, Inc. conducted extensive statistical and empirical analyses of data retrieved from the Aurora Police Department related to police interactions, arrests and uses of force. The team presented statistical evidence that police interactions, arrests, and uses of force occurred disproportionately and disparately with people of color, and particularly Black people, relative to white people in the City of Aurora. Based on this work, the investigation team concluded that “[They] observed statistically significant racial disparities — especially with respect to Black individuals — in nearly every important type of police contact with the community, from interactions to arrests to uses of force,” and that “[t]hese disparities persisted across income, gender and geographic boundaries.” This evidence played a critical role in supporting the Attorney General’s findings that Aurora Police engages in racially biased policing, treating people of color (and Black people in particular) differently from their white counterparts.
As a result of these findings, Attorney General Philip J. Weiser will seek to create a legally binding consent decree with the Aurora Police Department that will outline the steps his office believes necessary to fix the problems uncovered by the investigation. The investigative report and its findings have been mentioned by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Guardian, among others.
The Compass Lexecon team included Michael Kwak, Mihir Gokhale, Noah Mathews, and Peter Horvath from our New York Office.
The press release and a link to the investigative report and technical appendix can be found here.