Aurora Pride parade doesn't have enough police security lined up, police department says

  • Aurora became the first Illinois city outside of Chicago to host a gay pride parade with Indivisible Aurora put on the first such event in 2018. The parade is now run by Aurora Pride.

    Aurora became the first Illinois city outside of Chicago to host a gay pride parade with Indivisible Aurora put on the first such event in 2018. The parade is now run by Aurora Pride. Courtesy of Indivisible Aurora

  • Former Aurora police officer Chris Tunney and her spouse, former Police Chief Kristen Ziman, take a picture with Tara Vago of Aurora before the 2019 Pride Parade in Aurora. Ziman and Tunney have since retired.

      Former Aurora police officer Chris Tunney and her spouse, former Police Chief Kristen Ziman, take a picture with Tara Vago of Aurora before the 2019 Pride Parade in Aurora. Ziman and Tunney have since retired. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer, 2019

 
 
Updated 6/7/2022 6:59 PM

The Aurora Police Department says that it cannot provide enough police officers to ensure the safety of the Aurora Pride parade scheduled for Sunday.

In a news release sent Tuesday, spokesman Paris Lewbel said 20 more officers are needed, and that parade organizers have been unable to secure them.

 

He did not say whether it is related to a controversy about the parade not wanting police to march in the parade while wearing their standard uniforms, while carrying weapons, or driving police vehicles. Mayor Richard Irvin has criticized the decision, said he won't march in the parade and withdrew a city float from it.

Aurora Pride posted this on its Facebook page Tuesday afternoon: "We are concerned and disappointed, and we are investigating all options available to us." The organization's president did not return a call for comment.

The Illinois chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union criticized the decision. It had previously warned Irvin to not take retaliatory action against the parade.

"It is unacceptable that five days before the Pride Parade, City officials in Aurora are threatening to cancel it. Although the city has known of the parade for months, they now claim that they have insufficient officers to handle the parade -- and residents must be deprived of the opportunity to celebrate. This is not right, and it is not constitutional," said Ed Yohnka, communications and public policy director for ACLU Illinois.

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Since the parade is a private event, not a city event, police officers on the security detail would be working on their own time. Extra jobs and shifts are voluntary; the city can't force people to work them, according to Lewbel.

The statement said that it has seen a "significant" increase in overtime hiring to cover staff shortages, sick calls and vacation time. It also said that over the past few years, officers have wanted to spend more time with friends and family, rather than picking up overtime.

"As a result, we often have trouble hiring overtime shifts to cover our patrol division or for officers to work special events," Lewbel said in the statement.

The city approved the parade permit on May 3. The city suggested Aurora Pride contact other police departments and organizations to provide sworn law-enforcement workers, but as of Tuesday morning, the count was still short. Lewbel refused to say how many officers are required for the parade, saying that to protect events, the department does not disclose specific security plans, assignments or staffing requirements.

"Unless the additional officers are secured shortly, APD cannot recommend to the city that the event can proceed as planned," Lewbel said.

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