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Aurora names new interim police chief

Art Acevedo was most recently a police chief in Miami.

AURORA, Colo. — Aurora Police will soon have a new interim chief. The city announced Art Acevedo will take over as interim chief in early December.

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Acevedo has previously served as police chief in Austin, Texas, Houston and most recently Miami. He currently operates a law enforcement consulting company. The city of Aurora said Monday that Acevedo was consulting with the police department on its consent decree, and the city asked if he would apply for the interim position.

"I see this consent decree as an opportunity," Acevedo said Tuesday. "To help provide our officers with processes, systems, equipment, training – everything they need."

“Chief Acevedo has been a fixture in the national law enforcement community for years and has been vocal about needed and measured improvements in policing and public safety across the country. We are honored that he reached out to us, eager to assist us with the ongoing public safety changes we have been implementing,” Aurora City Manager Jim Twombly said in a statement.

Acevedo's tenure as Miami chief ended with him being fired in October 2021, six months into the job. The Miami city manager said he was "not the right fit for this organization," according to an Associated Press report

In January, Acevedo filed a federal lawsuit against Miami's government and four city officials, accusing them of firing him for being a whistleblower and exposing wrongdoing by city officials, according to a CNN report

Aurora has been looking for a new chief since April, when the city fired former Chief Vanessa Wilson. The city said they lost confidence in her as a leader. Wilson claims she was fired out of retaliation for her reform efforts.

Because Wilson faced resistance from some city leaders and the police union for her reform efforts, Acevedo was asked how he might also handle resistance.

"I met with council members," he said. "Everybody wants the department to be best it can be."

"I think the way we as a leadership group get everybody to have a shared vision, is constant engagement and communication," he said. "We cannot be in silos."

In his introductory remarks, Acevedo praised law enforcement and promised support for the department's officers.

"We’ve got political leadership here [in Aurora] where, other cities are defunding the police, [and] I am really excited to come to a city where they understand good policing requires an investment. It requires proper funding for training, equipment. It requires having a benefits package and pay that attracts the very best," he said.

He also committed to holding bad actors accountable. 

"I've already started asking questions about, do we have a disciplinary matrix, so officers know – here are the rules. If you violate the rules – let's make well-informed decisions," he said.

"At the end of the day, they have to understand, you cannot defend the indefensible," he said. "Not everybody needs to be a police officer."

Current Aurora interim chief Dan Oates came back to lead the department in May of this year. He will return to his home and family in Florida once Acevedo arrives and gets settled in.

Acevedo signed his contract Tuesday, and will officially become interim chief on Dec. 5.

The temporary job doesn't come with a formal timeline, although Acevedo mentioned "six to 12 months" during his introduction on Tuesday. He will be paid a salary equivalent to nearly $250,000 annually.

When asked if he was interested in the full-time, permanent job, he said "we'll see."

"Initially I was talking [with Aurora] about consulting, and how can I help you? Leadership, and community building. But I enjoy a challenge. I enjoy community building. I enjoy crime fighting. You will find me happiest in a police car, working in the middle of the night," he said.

"We'll see. We'll see," he said.

Aurora's search for a permanent chief has been rocky. In September, the city named three finalists after a nationwide search. One of the finalists withdrew almost immediately after being named a finalist. The other two met with city management, city council members and business leaders during a selection process that also included a meet-and-greet with community members. One of them withdrew his application after going through that three-day process.

Aurora’s city charter requires the city manager to hire a police chief and receive approval from the majority of the Aurora City Council. Acevedo's hiring puts a "pause" on the search for a permanent chief, a city spokesperson said. 

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