In 2020, the Attorney General of Colorado, Philip J. Weiser, appointed a team to investigate whether the Aurora Police Department and Aurora Fire Rescue had exhibited a pattern and practice of violating state and federal law. The investigation, the first of its kind under Senate Bill 217 (a law enforcement accountability bill enacted in the summer of 2020 in the wake of large-scale protests against police brutality following the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer), focused on police stops, arrests, uses of force, and possible discrimination in enforcement activities conducted by the Aurora Police Department and Aurora Fire Rescue.
Dr. David K. A. Mordecai and Samantha Kappagoda of Risk Economics, working closely with a team from Compass Lexecon including Michael Kwak, Mihir Gokhale, Noah Mathews, and Peter Horvath, conducted extensive statistical and empirical analyses of data retrieved from the Aurora Police Department related to police interactions, arrests and uses of force. The team presented statistical evidence that police interactions, arrests, and uses of force occurred disproportionately and disparately with people of color, and particularly Black people, relative to white people in the City of Aurora. Based on this work, the investigation team concluded that “[They] observed statistically significant racial disparities — especially with respect to Black individuals — in nearly every important type of police contact with the community, from interactions to arrests to uses of force,” and that “[t]hese disparities persisted across income, gender and geographic boundaries.” This evidence played a critical role in supporting the Attorney General’s findings that Aurora Police engages in racially biased policing, treating people of color (and Black people in particular) differently from their white counterparts.
As a result of these findings, Attorney General Philip J. Weiser will seek to create a legally binding consent decree with the Aurora Police Department that will outline the steps his office believes necessary to fix the problems uncovered by the investigation.
The Attorney General of Colorado’s statement to the press on September 15, 2021 can be watched here. The related press release and a link to the investigative report and technical appendix can be found here.
David Mordecai is President and Co-Founder of Risk Economics, and Visiting Scholar at Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences NYU, leading research activities at RiskEcon® Lab for Decision Metrics @ Courant Institute. Samantha Kappagoda is Chief Economist and Co-Founder of Risk Economics, and Visiting Scholar at Courant Institute, co-leading research activities at RiskEcon® Lab for Decision Metrics @ Courant Institute.
About Risk Economics
Risk Economics® provides advisory services at the intersection of commercial business-process engineering and risk engineering with a particular focus on coupling commercial reinsurance and financial technology, through the rigorous application of agent-based, demographic, and statistical methodologies to microeconomic and macroeconomic analytics.