AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — A Colorado police officer was not only not fired after he was found drunk and passed out in his unmarked patrol car in 2019, but now he has received a promotion.
Nate Meier, of the Aurora Police Department, was promoted to agent-detective effective Dec. 24, 2022, which brings his salary to $110,399, the department confirmed to News 2’s sister station, KDVR.
Body camera video captured officers responding to the call on March 29, 2019, on a welfare check. Dispatch was told an unconscious person — possibly an APD officer — was inside a car outside Buckley Air Force Base.
Aurora firefighters were already at the scene when officers arrived. Meier was in the driver’s seat of an unmarked Ford Taurus patrol car stopped in the middle of a street with the engine running, according to a report.
“Agent Meier appeared to be disoriented and did not appear to be responsive to instructions from (Aurora Fire Rescue) to open the door to the vehicle. After the wheels were chocked, decision was made to break the passenger side window to the vehicle, which was done by AFR,” an officer who responded to the scene said in the report at the time.
The responding officer said that Meier’s weapons were removed and that he smelled what he believed to be alcohol on Meier, according to the report.
The report goes on to say that Meier admitted to internal affairs that he left work to go home and admitted to drinking vodka from a bottle while at home. He was still on duty at the time.
“You admitted that you were impaired by alcohol. You stated you had no recollections of anything else until you woke up in the hospital,” the report states.
Meier was cleared of criminal charges after a review by the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office in 2019.
Why he wasn’t fired
Aurora’s police chief at the time of the incident, Nick Metz, said he didn’t fire Meier because he owned up to his poor decision.
“Since my arrival five years ago, I’ve made it very clear that when an employee makes a
mistake worthy of adverse action, before imposing discipline I not only consider the
actual offense, but I also take into serious consideration whether that individual owns
their mistake, takes responsibility, and takes steps to right the wrong,” Metz said in a 2019 email.
Aurora’s current interim police chief said he had a heart-to-heart conversation with Meier after he was promoted.
“After understanding that I could not stop the promotion,” Interim Police Chief Art Acevedo said, “I brought him in this office, and we had a very frank conversation about what would’ve happened had I been the chief, because it’s in policy.”
Acevedo also said Meier has since quit drinking.
“He should’ve done that before he got himself behind the wheel drunk driving, not after,” Acevedo said.
Because of a rule in Aurora’s charter, enough time had passed that Meier was eligible to accept a promotion to agent-detective and a $10,000 raise late last month.
“If it’s been over two years and they pass an examination, they pass the promotional process,” Acevedo said. “They go on a list, and you cannot bypass them.”
The incident, Acevedo said, was not good for the department’s image.
“It hurt us back then because someone that really committed a criminal offense did not face any consequences,” Acevedo said.
Meier has used this incident to train department recruits.
Acevedo wants to work with city leaders to discuss ways to change rules to grant him more options when handling promotions within the department personally.