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Colorado State Senator Wants Aurora's Interim Police Chief To Earn Trust Of Community

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)- Colorado State Sen. Rhonda Fields of Aurora knows policing in her city has been troubled for a long time, especially for Black people. She says one problem among many is the frequency with which Black people are stopped by police in the city and how they are treated.

"When you're pulled over for a police encounter it's kind of uncertain how that's going to play out," said Fields.

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Rhonda Fields (credit: CBS)

The Aurora Police Department has had a string of high-profile events in the past few years. Most notable, in 2019 Elijah McClain died following after a police encounter. Then in 2020 a black family was pulled over and held at gunpoint because an officer mistook their SUV for a stolen motorcycle based on results from a license plate reader.

Those are just two of the examples that prompted a third-party report commissioned by the city which found that Black men were disproportionately the subject of use of force in police encounters.

All of this is why Fields set up a community meeting with Aurora's Interim Police Chief Dan Oates. She wants him to explain to the community hear his plans for change.

"What is he going to do to educate to train to ensure that these encounters they end up not where there is a dead body or lack of judgment," Fields said.

She also wants people to know how he plans to bring stability to the department because she believes the revolving door of officers is hurting the department.

"We need to understand the culture, because we need to retain police officers and we need to retain the leadership that supervises them as well," Fields said.

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(credit: CBS)

She says feedback from the community is paramount to change.

"Your voice needs to be heard," said Fields. "Your presence is wanted because to suffer in silence and not to exercise or to share your concerns. They can't be addressed."

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