Author Topic: Bergen County native leading investigation of Colorado theater massacre  (Read 2561 times)

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Bergen County native leading investigation of Colorado theater massacre
Monday, July 23, 2012    Last updated: Monday July 23, 2012, 11:54 PM
The Record

He has been the face of law enforcement in the aftermath of the Colorado theater mass shooting, firmly declining to answer some questions about the investigation while also expressing anger and sadness, even choking up in public forums.

President Obama talks with Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates at Buckley Air Force Base in Colorado on Sunday. Oates grew up in Midland Park.

Daniel Oates, who, as the chief of police in Aurora, Colo., is in charge of investigating the most extensive mass shooting in the nations history, grew up in Midland Park. His parents, John and Louise Oates, who now live in Allendale, say he was a regular kid who loved sports.

They said they are not surprised by the compassion he has shown during press conferences and in interviews.

He definitely feels for people Louise Oates said. Hes very affected. You could really see he was almost in tears. He just carried himself well, and he showed his humanity and compassion. Were proud of our son.

Daniel Oates, 57, called his parents over the weekend after a suspect using an assault weapon killed 12 people and wounded 58 others early Friday at a midnight showing of the latest Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises. He told them he had slept about five hours in two days. He also described the difficulty of talking to families about the death of loved ones and how his police officers performed in the hours and days after the shooting, they said.

Hes very proud of his officers, how quickly they responded, Louise Oates said.

On Friday, hours after the shootings and before all the victims were identified, Oates was frustrated that he could not give worried families more information, his parents said. He couldnt even offer solace, John Oates said.

They said their son, the middle of five children, understood the pain of parents who had lost children. They said his own 18-year-old daughter had been out on the night of the shooting to see a midnight showing of the The Dark Knight Rises elsewhere in Aurora.

My daughter was at the premiere of Batman in another theater, Oates said in an emotional interview with NBCs Dateline. Ive talked to quite a few friends who said the same thing about their children.

Oates was booked with meetings and was not available to be interviewed Monday afternoon, an Aurora city official said.

Oates was born in Hackensack and lived in Oradell before his family moved to Midland Park, his parents said. He was a Boy Scout, earning his Eagle Scout badge by the time he was 14, his mother said.

He graduated from St. Josephs Regional High School in 1973 and attended college at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, where he majored in English. He became interested in police work while covering courts as a young reporter for The Atlantic City Press, his parents said.

He got interested in people and their problems, John Oates said.

Then he saw an advertisement for the New York City Police Department. Oates spent 21 years with the NYPD, rising to become a deputy chief in Brooklyn, where he was the second in command of 3,000 officers and 700 civilians in the southern part of the borough, according to a rsum that police officials in Aurora sent to The Record on Monday.

Before that, he served as a commanding officer in the NYPDs intelligence division from 1997 to 2000. One of his duties was arranging security for U.S. presidents. He also was behind security arrangements for the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000, the largest gathering of world leaders in history, according to his rsum .

He left the NYPD in 2001, a month before 9/11, to become chief of police in Ann Arbor, Mich. His parents said he moved to Michigan because wanted to lead his own department. Former colleagues in Ann Arbor said Aurora is lucky to have Oates leading such an intense investigation.

He will be all over; hell be everywhere, Rich Kinsey, a retired detective sergeant who worked closely with Oates in Ann Arbor, told He had this knack of being everywhere all at once. Hell be on top of this. He knows whats going on with every investigation and is demanding with his personnel. Hes well prepared to do something like this.

Oates was named chief of the Aurora police in 2005. He has been credited with bolstering the departments reputation, particularly among minorities, according to a story in The Denver Post. Before he took over, according to the story, there had been racial tensions in the community regarding the Police Department.

Oates, who earned a law degree and a masters degree in management while working for the NYPD, teaches an online course in constitutional law for Long Island University while working as chief in Aurora. His parents said he passed the bar exam in Colorado, and his rsum says he also is licensed to practice law in New Jersey and New York.

Hes always been good at multitasking, his parents said.

Weve seen him in action before, John Oates said. Hes very competent.

Hes thorough and sensitive, Louise Oates said. You can see these horrible things have affected him. The deaths of these people, and the wounded, its awful.

Jack Weis, now a real estate investor in Boston, said he remembers attending nativity school in Midland Park with Daniel Oates and playing basketball with him on a team coached by John Oates. Jacks mother, Janet Weis, remembered Daniel Oates as a bright and caring person.

When I see him on television, [I think] thats the boy who grew up to be a fine man, she said.

Nicholas Papapietro, a Midland Park councilman, also attended nativity school with Oates and remembers being in Boy Scouts and playing basketball with him.

I just remember he was a nice kid, said Papapietro, who suggested that perhaps the strictness of the nuns at their Catholic school helped shape the chiefs personality.

Email: naanes@northjersey and