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BY PEYTON GARCIA • THURSDAY, NOV. 18, 2021

Aurora’s police and fire departments are promising to be better.

The city’s first responders reached an agreement (technically a “consent decree”) with Colorado Attorney General Phil Wieser’s office pledging to improve their use-of-force policies and training; collect better data on police interactions with the community; and bring more diversity to the staff.

The decision comes after the AG published a 112-page report in September declaring serious allegations of patterns of racial bias and excessive use of force by the Aurora Police Department.

The report didn’t exactly come as a shock to the Aurora community. The city’s first responders have been the subject of intense scrutiny and controversy ever since the death of 23-year-old Elijah McClain in 2019. Three Aurora police officers and two Aurora paramedics were charged with criminally negligent homicide and manslaughter in McClain’s death.

The city plans to name an independent “decree monitor” by the end of the year who will ensure the police and fire agencies are staying true to their word and track overall progress. The decree is set to last five years, but it really depends on how long it takes for the departments to achieve “substantial compliance.”
[CO Sun; CO Newsline]

☀️ Still no (measurable) snow. It’ll be sunny and in the 50s today.

📰 IN OTHER NEWS

🌮 A promising start to Casa Bonita’s next chapter
Yesterday I shared the big news that Chef Dana Rodriguez will be helming the kitchen at Casa Bonita once it reopens under new ownership. In more Pink Palace updates, new owners Matt Stone and Trey Parker are retaining the 50-plus current Casa Bonita employees while the restaurant is closed, and paying them to volunteer at local nonprofits like We Don’t Waste, Project Angel Heart, the Action Center, and Habitat ReStores. I’d say Matt and Trey are off to a promising start so far… [Westword]

New Clayton safe campsite gets preliminary approval
This week, a City Council committee unanimously voted to advance the proposal to erect Denver’s first Safe Outdoor Space on city-owned property. If the measure is approved by the full City Council, the campsite for unhoused residents will lease space in the parking lot of the Human Services East Office on North Steele Street, replacing a site in Park Hill that closes in December. Officials from Colorado Village Collaborative, the organization that manages these safe campsites, say the program has only had two interactions with police in the last year, and 14% of camp residents have transitioned into permanent housing. [CO Politics]

🏭 Suncor promises tighter restrictions in new permit
State health officials are seeking to renew a water quality permit for the Suncor Energy oil refinery in Commerce City. Community members have been demanding the factory’s closure all year after repeated pollution violations. State health officials are planning to renew the permit anyway — but they promise there will be tighter pollution restrictions, more transparency, and frequent site inspections. [Denver Post]
👉 How you can get involved: Tune in to a virtual public meeting tonight from 6:30-8:30 p.m. to review the permit draft.

🤔 CONVERSATION STARTER

It’s Native American Heritage Month. Is there someone or something you’d like to shout out?

City Cast Denver reader Annie Oldakowski wants to turn the spotlight on Shannon Francis, executive director of Spirit of the Sun, an Indigenous youth empowerment organization. “She’s helping her Hopi and Navajo communities (and others) get through the pandemic that we know has hit Native American communities especially hard. I was really moved by her story and the work the org is doing,” Annie says.

🎙 TODAY'S PODCAST

BookBar Buys The Bookies
14 mins
The Bookies has been a Denver institution for decades. When owner Sue Lubeck died earlier this summer, the fate of the quirky little bookstore was in unknown. Enter Nicole Sullivan, owner of BookBar across town. Today, Bree Davies talks with The Bookies' new owner about her plans for the beloved bookstore.

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🗓️ MARK YOUR CAL

+ FRIDAY: Blossoms of Light
Tomorrow night kicks off the Denver Botanic Gardens’ seven-week signature holiday event, “a dazzling and ever-changing display of light and color.”

+ SATURDAY: Colorado Girl Gang
Support the talented female entrepreneurs of our community at this holiday pop-up featuring artisan crafts and wares from Colorado’s women-owned businesses.

+ SATURDAY: Pumpkin Pie 5K
Make room in your belly and work up an appetite for next week’s holiday feasts at this community 5K/10K. Also, there’s pie at the end 🤤

🪴 GROWN IN COLORADO

Via Giphy

Colorado Springs resident Jeremiah Harris just broke the record for growing the world’s largest Venus flytrap, and he’s got a page in the “Guinness World Records 2022” book to prove it. The prized plant’s “mouth” measures a whopping 2.4 inches wide. It’s not the man-eating monster from “Little Shop of Horrors,” but it sure is something. [Read more 👉 OutThere CO]

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