Interim Aurora Police Chief Art Acevedo steps down

(Tony Gorman/CPR News)
Interim Aurora Police Chief Art Acevedo, Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman, and Aurora City Manager Jason Batchelor.

Updated 6:02 p.m.

Aurora Interim Police Chief Art Acevedo announced his resignation from the Aurora Police Department on Tuesday after leading the department for just over a year. The longtime law enforcement veteran said in a statement that he’s moving back to Texas to spend more time with family.

An emotional Acevedo revealed that he told current Aurora City Manager Jason Batchelor and former City Manager Jim Twombley that he had planned to stay as long as he was effective.

"We had been talking for quite a few weeks. It's like, ‘Hey, we need you to lose the interim title.’ But I knew where my heart is," Acevedo said. "Every time I'd get a video of my son wrestling and I'm not there. I can't be without my boy, and I can't move him right now. So, I got to get home to him because I want to be judged as a father."

Mayor Mike Coffman said it was a sad day for the city but said he respects Acevedo’s decision to return to his family.

“He has set us on a positive trajectory in terms of the leadership in the department, a effective strategies and bringing down the crime rate and extraordinary progress under the consent decree,” Coffman said

Acevedo was hired in December 2022 as the Aurora Police Department’s second interim police chief. Prior to his arrival, he had spent 21 years with the California Highway Patrol and led police departments in Austin, Houston, and Miami. 

His last job in Miami ended controversially after only six months. Acevedo was fired for sending an eight-page memo to Miami’s city manager that criticized city commissioners for interfering in internal affairs.

The city will take a few weeks before it resumes its search for a permanent Police Chief.

The Aurora Police Department made several significant changes under Acevedo’s watch, despite his interim status. Last year, the city approved the reinstatement of a reserve police force to help address a shortage of police officers. The city also suspended its mutual aid agreement with Denver after a settlement with George Floyd protesters left out Aurora officers. Their exclusion left Aurora open to separate, costly lawsuits.

Acevedo received public criticism over decisions involving officer-involved deaths. After an internal affairs investigation, the police department cleared officers involved in the shooting death of 14-year-old Jor’Dell Richardson. Despite not being with the Aurora Police Department when the incident occurred, Acevedo also allowed Officer Nathan Woodayrd to rejoin the police force after he was acquitted in the 2019 death of Elijah McClain in November.

Aurora City Manager Jason Batchelor praised Acevedo’s leadership during his time with the department.

“Since day one, Chief Acevedo has carried out this role with the vision, purpose, and conviction of a permanent chief,” said Aurora City Manager Jason Batchelor. “He brought passion and unparalleled experience and knowledge to his work every day. I am confident in the direction he has set for the agency and its leadership.”

"He has served this city well and honorably for the last 13 months, But at a great personal toll, it is obviously a lot to ask him to move from his family, continue to serve.," Batchelor said. "He's done that with passion, with professionalism and I want to thank him for that."

Acevedo’s last day will be January 22. Interim Deputy Chief Heather Morris has been named Interim Police Chief. She will be the third Interim Police Chief since the firing of Vanessa Wilson in April 2022.

“Heather represents continuity in terms of our efforts in terms of our leadership,” Batchelor said. “So, that's what we're going to do. So Heather's going to be the interim, and this came on pretty suddenly over the last several days.”