Aurora Sentinel article rife with politics, “materially false information” 

By Matt Connelly
man sitting on chair holding newspaper on fire

According to the contractor hired by the City of Aurora to conduct an audit of the Aurora Police Department’s records division, there is “materially false information” in an Aurora Sentinel article published yesterday that examined the results of his recent report. 

PRI Management Group was hired at the request of the Aurora City Manager Jim Twombly after earlier internal audits found significant management and process issues in the Aurora Police Department’s records division. 

An article published yesterday morning in the Aurora Sentinel titled, “FOR THE RECORD: APD records rebuke touted in Aurora chief’s ouster rife with inaccuracies, politics” apparently did not set any records for accuracy according to PRI’s Ed Claughton and Aurora Police Department Acting Police Capt. Chris Amsler.

The article was written by Max Levy, Carina Julig, and Kara Mason. The reporters asserted two points both through innuendo and selective reporting:

  1. There weren’t any investigations affected by the 2,512 case backlog at Aurora Police Department.
  2. The release of the case backlog report was somehow part of a coordinated effort to oust Police Chief Vanessa Wilson.

On the first question, City Councilmember Dustin Zvonek asked Claughton, “Notably, they said that the data entry backlog was unlikely to have delayed any investigations. They said any investigations. This is what’s being reported by the Aurora Sentinel. Is that factual?

“Is what they’re reporting factual?” Claughton responds to Zvonek to clarify the question. 

“Yes,” Zvonek responds. 

“Absolutely not, it is materially false information, and I vehemently will argue that, and our final report will show you the evidence for that. Very incorrect information,” Claughton forcefully declared to the audience attending the WebEx meeting. 

The Aurora Sentinel highlighted comments from Aurora Police Department Acting Police Capt. Chris Amsler in their article – more on that below – and one reporter named Max Levy also tweeted, “Notably, they said that a data entry backlog was unlikely to have delayed any investigations”

On the second question of whether the release of the PRI Management Group report was somehow part of a coordinated effort to oust Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson, Zvonek asked Claughton very directly:

“There have been some accusations that this report was brought forward as an effort to try and smear the chief of police. Have you had any conversations with any city employee, any city council member that suggested they wanted this to come forward to smear the former Chief of Police?”

Claughton responded forcefully to the question, “Absolutely not. I have zero – this is the first time I’ve ever had any discussions with any City of Aurora elected officials. Never had any previous contact. I wasn’t even aware of the efforts regarding her performance that had come out in the public news. Not within our scope of work. We were not directed to do that. That is absolutely false.”

Additionally, Aurora Police Department Acting Police Capt. Chris Amsler agreed that it was possible the Aurora Sentinel could have omitted a portion of the crimes affected by the backlog in their reporting and later went on to agree there was no way he could feel confident saying the 2,512 case backlog didn’t hold up the investigation of any crimes.

“Do you feel that the Sentinel possibly omitted a portion of crimes that you were talking about? I’m just trying to figure this out,” Councilmember Danielle Jurinsky asked Aurora Police Department Acting Police Capt. Chris Amsler during the WebEx meeting.

He responded, “Yes, that could have been the case. Again, like I said, I was referring to those major crimes cases such as homicides, serious child abuses, kidnappings, those type of cases.” 

Jurinsky followed up with Amsler and asked, “but you in no way feel confident enough to say that absolutely it didn’t hold up the investigation of any of these 2,512 crimes?”

“No, when it comes to some of those minor cases, I probably misspoke on that.” 

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About the Author:

Matt Connelly is the founder of Campfire Colorado and Campfire Media.