The Aurora Police Department has used force against Black people in more cases than white and Hispanic people for three years in a row, according to data released Thursday.
Black people accounted for over 43% of use-of-force incidents by APD in 2017. That percentage increased to over 49% in 2018 and 2019.
Only around 16% of Aurora’s population is Black.
Use of force includes using pepper spray, dogs, tasers, hobbling, batons, mesh rounds from shotguns and other injurious methods. Black people were the only racial demographic to be subjected to every form of police force.
In 2017, Aurora police used force against Black people in 75 more cases than white people and in 169 more cases than Hispanic people.
The racial disparities have increased over time. In 2018, force was used against Black people 148 more times than white people and 266 more times than Hispanic people. By 2019, 132 more times than white people and 292 more times than Hispanic people.
Aurora was the only police department to use more force against Black people than other groups. The data compared APD to police and sheriff’s departments in Denver, Colorado Springs, Arvada, Arapahoe and Fort Collins.
In Denver, which has a similar Black population to Aurora, a plurality of police force was used against white people in all three years. Both Denver and Aurora reported between 62,000 and 65,000 Black residents last year.
Denver police had 112 and 90 fewer uses of force against Black people in 2018 and 2019 compared to Aurora.
However, Denver’s force rates still leaned disproportionately towards Black people, accounting for between 26% and 30% of use of force incidents from 2017 to 2019.
Black people make up about 9% of Denver’s population.
Colorado Springs and Arapahoe reported significantly more use of force incidents than Aurora and Denver; however, the cities use a broader definition of “use of force.”
In Colorado Springs and Arapahoe, pointing a gun at someone constitutes a “use of force” while in Aurora, it would be defined as a “display of force” and is not included in the released data.
Arvada and Fort Collins reported less use of force incidents than the other four cities, with the former not separating its incidents by race.
The Aurora Police Department has come under fire in recent months for its treatment of Black people.
National protests began this year over the 2019 death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old unarmed Black man killed by Aurora police while walking home. In September, the Aurora commission upheld the firing of an APD officer who left a hobbled Black woman upside-down in his car for over 20 minutes while she screamed she couldn’t breathe.
During the summer, APD released internal policy changes to update the department’s use of force.
So far this year, the department has used force less. APD’s use of force incidents currently sit at 402, compared to the 2019 total of 832.