Police official steps aside before taking over department

State

Courtesy: Aurora Police Department

AURORA, Colo. (AP) — An official involved in the handling of an officer found drunk in his cruiser announced he would not serve as interim chief of the Aurora department — one of the largest in the state.

Deputy Aurora Police Chief Paul O’Keefe sent a statement to the city on Christmas Eve saying he hoped his stepping aside would help the department “move beyond the negative depiction currently being broadcast,” Sentinel Colorado reported. He said he would retire from the department on March 31 after 24 years with the department.

His announcement leaves the leadership of the department unclear a week before he had been set to take over from outgoing Chief Nick Metz.

O’Keefe was the first person to respond after Agent Nathan Meier was found passed out March 29 in his running, unmarked cruiser that was parked in a median near Buckley Air Force Base.

Police have said the incident was initially treated as a medical situation and a DUI investigation was not conducted. However, Meier, 48, later acknowledged to drinking vodka to the point of memory loss while on duty.

KCNC-TV reported earlier this month that Meier remained on the job despite recommendations from internal panels to fire him.

Hours before O’Keefe’s statement, the department disclosed Metz’s disciplinary action against Meier, explaining that he was demoted and temporarily suspended and is subject to random urinalysis and breath testing.

Metz said in September that he would retire from law enforcement at the end of the year. He worked for the Seattle Police Department for more than 30 years before coming to Aurora in 2015.

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