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Colorado Edition: Why legal settlements attempting to diversify policing forces haven't been effective

Several police officers in body armor and face shields stand outdoors between trees in front of the camera, most of them facing the left side of the frame.
David Zalubowski
Officers in riot gear guard the police department Saturday, June 27, 2020, in Aurora, Colorado, during a rally and march over the death of Elijah McClain.

The focus of today’s episode: settlements for allegations of police misconduct that are centered around reforms to policing. The 11 largest cities in Northern Colorado have paid out $50 million over the past decade to settle 205 allegations of police brutality and other abuses of power. Many of these cases have slipped under the radar. Years before the death of 23-year-old Elijah McClain, two families attempted to reform the Aurora police department through legal settlements.

But despite past promises to improve procedures and diversity within the department, a KUNC investigation into the data reveals there hasn’t been much progress toward these goals. Investigative reporter Michael de Yoanna shares what he uncovered in the process, including efforts to increase diversity among Aurora’s police.

We hear the second in de Yoanna's two-part series on settlements, and speak with him about his reporting.

Colorado Edition is hosted and produced by Erin O'Toole (@ErinOtoole1). Web was edited by digital operations manager Ashley Jefcoat. The mission of Colorado Edition is to deepen understanding of life in Northern Colorado through authentic conversation and storytelling. It's available as a podcast on iTunesSpotifyGoogle PlayStitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Colorado Edition is made possible with support from our KUNC members. Thank you!

Our theme music was composed by Colorado musicians Briana Harris and Johnny Burroughs. Other music in the show by Blue Dot Sessions.

As the host of KUNC’s new program and podcast In the NoCo, I work closely with our producers and reporters to bring context and diverse perspectives to the important issues of the day. Northern Colorado is such a diverse and growing region, brimming with history, culture, music, education, civic engagement, and amazing outdoor recreation. I love finding the stories and voices that reflect what makes NoCo such an extraordinary place to live.
KUNC's Colorado Edition is a daily look at the stories, news, people and issues important to you. It's a window to the communities along the Colorado Rocky Mountains.
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