Aurora police union seeks extra protections for recruits as probationary period ballot question looms

Sgt. Bob Wesner, president of the Aurora Police Association, said the union is hoping to negotiate with the city some additional language that would allow officers who aren’t appointed police officers before the end of the probationary period ends to appeal the department’s decision

AURORA| Voters could be asked this fall to extend the probationary period for new Aurora police officers.

Under current rules, officers are on probation for a year from the day they are hired. If voters approve the measure, which City Council’s Public Safety Committee unanimously approved last week, officers would be on probation for six months after they complete formal training. Including the time they spend in training, the officers would never be on probation for less than one year and never longer than two years, according to a memo from Assistant City Attorney Nancy Rodgers.

The measure will go before the full council June 27. In the memo, Rodgers said the ballot question must be certified by Sept. 9 to be on the November ballot.apdRodgers’ memo said that in recent years officers have spent more time in formal training, which has meant they have less time on the street before their probationary period ends. The ballot measure is aimed at extending that period.

Councilwoman Barb Cleland, who chairs the public safety committee, said the goal is to make sure new officers are as prepared as they can be.

“With all the issues, we want to make sure our newbies have all the training they should have,” she said.

But the measure, at least in its current form, is meeting opposition from the police officers’ union.

Sgt. Bob Wesner, president of the Aurora Police Association, said the union is hoping to negotiate with the city some additional language that would allow officers who aren’t appointed police officers before the end of the probationary period ends to appeal the department’s decision.

New officers don’t currently have that option, Wesner said, but if the department is going to extend the period during which the chief can fire recruits, the union wants those officers to have a chance to appeal.

Officers get a pay raise when they complete the probationary period now, Wesner said, but pushing that back by an additional year isn’t a chief concern for the union. Instead, Wesner said, they are concerned about offering officers due process should the department opt not to hire them.

Probationary periods vary from department to department. At the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, new recruits are on probation for one year, said Julie Brooks, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office. In Denver, officers are on probation for six months after they graduate the academy, said Detective Raquel Lopez, a spokeswoman for the department.

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