17th Judicial DA Brian Mason and 18th Judicial DA John Kellner Announce Addition of Aurora Police Department to Critical Incident Response Teams
(April 23, 2021) District Attorneys Brian Mason and John Kellner are pleased to announce that the Aurora Police Department will join the Critical Incident Response Teams for the 17th and 18th Judicial Districts, respectively. These two teams conduct independent, multi-agency investigations into officer-involved shootings and in-custody deaths. Until now, the Aurora Police Department has not participated in these teams.
C.R.S. § 16-2.5-301 mandates that law enforcement agencies in Colorado participate in a multi-agency team “in conducting any investigation, evaluation, and review of an incident involving the discharge of a firearm by a peace officer that resulted in injury or death.”
The north part of Aurora is in Adams County, in Mason’s 17th Judicial District; the south part is in Arapahoe County, Kellner’s 18th Judicial District. “The law enforcement agencies in the 18th Judicial District have agreed to bring the Aurora Police Department into our Critical Incident Response Team, understanding this was in the best interest of transparency and adherence to the spirit of the law. We welcome the expertise of APD investigators as they will now reciprocate when needed for our other agencies,” Kellner said. “When I examine the facts of a shooting to determine whether charges should be brought, I need to know I am looking at an independent investigation. This move by APD is a step in the right direction.”
“I welcome the Aurora Police Department to the Critical Incident Response Team for the 17th Judicial District,” said District Attorney Brian Mason. “When a person dies or is injured during an encounter with police, the incident must be investigated thoroughly, independently, and with integrity. That’s precisely what the Critical Incident Response Team does. With today’s announcement, I have much greater confidence that any such incident – whether it occurs in Aurora or another community in my jurisdiction – will be investigated properly.”
“Our relationship with the two CIRT teams is another step towards my commitment to A New Way of serving our community, said Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson. This partnership brings additional transparency into our critical incident investigations, and will promote trust with the community we serve.”
The Aurora Police Department has already begun its integration into these two teams and this announcement takes immediate effect. Any future qualifying incidents will be investigated by the Critical Incident Response Team for the respective Judicial District.
District Attorney Mason assumed the oath of office on January 12, 2021. The 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office endeavors to seek justice on behalf of the citizens of Adams and Broomfield counties in felony and misdemeanor cases. DA Mason and his staff are dedicated to transforming the criminal justice system to better serve the citizens of the 17th Judicial District.
Ms. Gazelka is a forensic therapist and clinician in Denver, Colorado. She is currently focused on providing therapy and assessment services to adult offenders in the community corrections and parole systems as a supervisor at Correctional Psychology Associates (CPA). Her education and career have been devoted to the intersection of psychology and law since 2000. Ms. Gazelka has been working within the field of forensic and correctional psychology since 2006, providing therapy in the community and acute mental health care and risk assessments in county jails. She has practiced as a Licensed Professional Counselor since June 2012. She also became a Licensed Addiction Counselor in March 2014. She was listed as a full operating level DVOMB Approved Provider in June 2019 and started a fledgling DV program oriented to Colorado’s Department of Corrections at CPA in September 2019. Ms. Gazelka was appointed to the Domestic Violence Offender Management Board (DVOMB) in March 2019 and has started her second term with the board. Ms. Gazelka has been recognized for her work as Contributor of the Year at CPA in 2010 and 2012, as well as having been awarded an Alumni Impact Award for her forensic work in the community by University of Denver’s GSPP in 2019. Ms. Gazelka received her Master of Arts degree in Forensic Clinical Psychology from University of Denver's Graduate School of Professional Psychology in 2009. Ms. Gazelka also received her Juris Doctorate from William Mitchell College of Law in 2007, obtaining attorney’s licenses in both Minnesota and Colorado (currently inactive).
Alex Castro Croy
Alex Castro Croy is a bilingual, bicultural, Trauma and Addiction Counselor and owner/Lead Clinician of Life Recovery Centers in Denver and Northglenn Colorado.
A first-generation immigrant from Mexico who accomplished his dream in higher education receiving an AA in Pastoral Ministry (Dallas, Texas), Bachelor of Science in Human Services (MSU in Denver, Colorado) and MA in Community Counseling from Regis University (Denver, Co). He is continuing to pursue his MA/Ph.D. from Pacifica Graduate Institute in Jungian and Archetypal Studies.
Alex’s passion includes training, teaching, counseling, and consulting. He has been an Adjunct Professor for the Human Services Department at MSU-Denver for 9 years. He has served as an Interventionist for the Latino GLBTQ community, Drug Court Probation Officer at Denver Juvenile Court Probation (8 years), Bilingual Diversion Officer for Denver DA office (5 years), and currently owner and director of Life Recovery Centers (7 years). He has worked with a variety of clients from all walks of life and his eclectic therapeutic interventions have proven to be effective in treating trauma and addiction.
Thea Wessel is an addictions counselor with a private practice in Colorado. She has been working in the criminal and addiction fields for thirteen years. Ms. Wessel earned her Masters in forensic psychology from the University of Denver and has her LPC, LAC, MAC, NCAAC, and ADS. She is working towards her Ph.D. in Transpersonal Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Ms. Wessel continually challenges herself and others to provide quality addiction treatment and ways to continue to educate the community about addiction issues.