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Aurora OKs "Ideal Choice" for Police Chief

By Jeremy Meyer, Denver Post Staff Writer

Aurora - It's telling that the only question Aurora City Council members had before approving Daniel J. Oates as the city's new police chief was whether he was a Yankees fan.

Seconds after the council unanimously approved Oates as chief Tuesday night, his image appeared on a large video screen, beamed from his current job in Ann Arbor, Mich. Sure enough, he was wearing a Yankees tie.

New York is where Oates got his start in policing, beginning as an officer 25 years ago and working his way up to executive deputy chief of a Brooklyn borough where he oversaw 3,000 officers and 700 civilians. He retired in 2001 after getting a law degree, a master's degree and leading the department's legal department and its intelligence division.

Oates didn't quit policing. For the past four years, he's been chief of the Ann Arbor Police Department through a budget crunch.

Later this year, he'll take over as Aurora's top cop, having beaten out two other finalists, including interim Chief Terry Jones.

Aurora City Manager Ron Miller called Oates "clearly the most qualified candidate."

"His education, experience and leadership made him the ideal choice for our community," he said.

Oates, 50, will be paid the top level of $131,000 a year. He's expected to start after Nov. 28.

"I'm thrilled and excited," Oates said. "I feel very honored, and I'm going to do everything I can to earn your trust."

Oates takes over a department of about 600 officers that has been through one of its most difficult times.

In March, Chief Ricky Bennett stepped down amid fallout over the agency's failure to arrest a convicted child rapist who went on to rape and attack several women in Denver and Aurora. The city and 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office are facing several lawsuits over the matter.

Aurora has weathered criticism over controversial police shootings, a perception of racist policing and disagreements with the district attorney's office.

Ann Arbor cops said Oates is the perfect man for Aurora.

"He's the guy who can straighten things out," Lt. Michael Logghe said.

Oates is known as a relentless worker who is regularly at crime scenes, regardless of the hour.

He is married with two elementary-school-age children and already has money down on a house in Aurora.

Oates said problems associated with the city's rapid growth will be his biggest challenge.

But like the Yankees, who are in the playoffs once again, he also will be where he wants to be once he gets to Aurora.

"I'm really excited about this," Oates said. "And I can't wait to get there."

Staff writer Jeremy Meyer can be reached at 303-820-1175 or jpmeyer@denverpost.com.