AUSTIN, TX – On Friday, June 19, 2020, protestors stormed the Austin Police Headquarters bringing down the American flag and Texas flag and proceeded to burn them in front of the station in the street.
The protestors were chanting “Fuck the police!” repeatedly.
— Bino Cadenas (@Bino_APD) June 20, 2020
Austin Police Department Officer, Joshua Todd, was quoted in a facebook posting as saying:
“Very surreal last night, they stormed the police station but couldn’t make it inside, they took down the flags and burned them…… This country is in a very dangerous place.”
This protest and demonstration of disrespect for our American Flag and our country occurred a few days after the Austin City Council voted on a police defunding program.
According to Houston Public Media, Austin City Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison created a program to reduce the police department’s budget limiting the number of officers the department can hire.
She also requested that money from the police department be used for mental health services and to review police misconduct.
Protestors have been demanding the police department’s budget be reduced by at least $100 million. The city council members are in favor of defunding the police and have no faith in the leadership team of the Austin Police Department (APD) in “making modifications in police practices to end police violence against African Americans and other minorities”.
APD detective, Issa Kafena, and former member of Austin Mayor Steve Adler’s security detail argues that the department is understaffed, overworked, and undertrained making it exceedingly difficult to serve the Austin citizens.
Some other policies that were banned this past week are the reduction of the use of certain weapons and maneuvers by the police, such as tear gas and non-lethal ammunition during protests. This includes the use of chokeholds as noted by Council Member, Greg Casar.
APD Police Chief, Brian Manley, argues that the reduction of his force has already proved a decreased force increases crime because there is no deterrent effect. Chief Manley was quoted by PJ Media as saying:
“One of the best deterrents to crime is a visible police presence.”
Ken Cassaday, president of the Austin Police Association, agrees with Chief Manley and was quoted by the PJ Media as saying:
“The more vacancies you have, the less safe the city is. You can just look at the crime stats here recently.”
The Texas Department of Public Safety had to come in and help patrol in January due to the APD’s attrition due to retirements.
It appears the Austin Mayor, Steve Adler, is not supporting the APD at this time and the city council is even trying to get Police Chief, Brian Manley to quit because of an activist group, JUST America, demanding Chief Manley be terminated.
There is no legal justification to fire him at this point.
According to KVUE-ABC, some of the policy changes requested be to impose four amendments to APD’s General Orders:
- No control or restraint holds around the neck in dealing with suspects, inmates, or detainees. If this policy was violated the disciplinary process would take effect.
- The intentional deactivation BWCs during a critical incident would cause the officer to be suspended per the disciplinary process.
- If an officer tampers with a BWC intentionally, the officer would be transferred to the district attorney for analysis.
- APD is to inform the Austin City Council as soon as the amendments are added to the General Orders with in 24 hours. The new information will also be posted on APD’s website within 24 hours.
Austin City Council plans a ‘defund the police’ vote, gives members 3 days to pick a side
June 10, 2020
AUSTIN, TX – The Austin City Council has a very important vote planned for Thursday evening. They, like numerous other metropolitan areas around the country are talking about defunding the police department.
This didn’t sit well with the Austin Police Association, who wrote a letter requesting a delay to that vote.
Before we jump into the letter and the calls for defunding, let’s take a look at the Austin Police Department.
Austin is the capitol of Texas. It has a population of right around 1 million people. It is also home to the University of Texas, the second largest university in the state, averaging an additional 50,000 students in Austin each year.
The police department is comprised of 2,600 employees, 1,900 of which are officers. That works out to about 1 officer for every 552 residents.
According to the budget document for the city’s 2019-2020 fiscal year:
“The Austin Police Department serves the residents of Austin through neighborhood-based patrol, investigating crimes, providing traffic control, and answering in excess of a million emergency and non-emergency calls for service annually.
Patrol officers are dispatched to over 330,000 of these calls and work an additional 260,000 self-initiated calls, with detectives working over 32,000 property crime cases and 3,800 violent crime cases.
The Austin Police Department strives to keep Austin one of the safest large cities in the nation with a violent crime rate among the lowest for peer cities.”
The current budget for the department, which expires on September 30th, is $434M, accounting for roughly 40% of the city’s annual budget.
At last Friday’s Council meeting, several members filed resolutions that threaten to reduce that number, as well as eliminating 190 full-time law enforcement positions and freezing the academy indefinitely.
This would mean that as officers retire, there would be know graduating cadets to back fill those positions, leaving the department that much more short-handed.
Of those resolutions the two that had the most impact on the law enforcement community were Items 95 and 96.
“Council Member Greg Casar brought forward Item No. 95 which would implement changes to Austin Police policies and tactics.
This resolution would strictly prohibit police from using chokeholds or strangleholds, require de-escalation tactics in all circumstances, ban officers from shooting at moving vehicles, ban the use of tear gas and impact munitions on people exercising their First Amendment rights, limit no-knock warrants, limits the use of facial recognition technology by police, and delay the July APD cadet class until the training curriculum is overhauled, according to prior council direction.
“Item number 96 provides direction for Austin’s upcoming budget that no additional sworn police staff positions should be added and that sworn positions the department cannot reasonably fill in FY 2020-2021 should be eliminated, redirecting those unused funds to other public health and safety efforts.”
The Greg Casar effort to go after APD @Chief_Manley was hatched on May 18 — seven days before George Floyd died and long before the local protests.
— Matt Mackowiak (@MattMackowiak) June 5, 2020
“As calls for the resignation of leadership within the APD escalate, Chief Brian Manley had the opportunity to explain to the council on Friday why he made certain decisions over the course of the protests.
“Manley explained his initial decisions were based on what he saw happening around the country and preparing for it locally.
“‘The purpose of us and what we were trying to do was to give people the space to come out and exercise their right to free speech and to do so in a safe and positive manner,’ Manley said. ‘This was unlike anything we have ever seen as a country and especially like we dealt with last weekend [May 30 and May 31], nothing we have ever dealt with in our own community.'”
Worth noting about the policies of Austin, the city council can only request a resignation, they cannot fire the chief. Only the city manager has the authority to impact Manley’s position, with his only recourse being a demotion. He cannot fire the chief either.
Mayor Steve Adler joined a local news broadcast to discuss this upcoming vote.
It is these resolutions, coupled with the fact that council members and citizens were given only a few days to weigh all the options and have a conversation that led to the letter written by the Austin Police Association.
The letter opens with this statement:
IN MIDST OF PUBLIC SAFETY CRISIS, AUSTIN POLICE ASSOCIATION CALLS FOR DELAY OF DEFUNDING VOTE
In the letter, Craig Casaday writes:
“Last Friday, in the midst of the greatest moment of unrest in recent City history, Austin City Council members…filed three last minute resolutions that will be considered during this Thursday’s Council meeting.
If passed on Thursday, the resolutions, particularly Item 95 and Item 96 could cut over 190 police positions from the next city budget and halt the next police cadet class indefinitely, creating an additional public safety crisis in the midst of the one we are experiencing right now.
“George Floyd was murdered by Derek Chauvin, who should have been protecting him. It was a crime perpetrated by officers of the law. We condemn the evil acts of those individuals. They do not deserve to wear the uniform.
Institutional racism must be eliminated and police procedures must be reviewed with vital reforms enacted to prevent this from happening in our community.
We are committed to having a frank conversation about necessary reforms. We cannot; however, in the heat of this very tender moment, move to defund the good men and women in our police force who are working the longest hours of their careers and doing an admirable job protecting their community during the most tumultuous time in our lives.
“The situation we face as a nation is a powder keg. It is important to stop and reflect on this crucial fact: both protestors and police officers are human beings experiencing distress and fear.
During the recent protests, our officers had fireworks, rocks, and bottles filled with unknown substances hurled at them along with many words of hate. The bottles were especially distressing given that Molotov cocktails, though unsuccessfully lit, were made to hurl at police.
In response to these objects being thrown, several of the officers fired bean bag projectiles and foam batons (the APD did not use rubber bullets) to cease the acts. These procedural means of crowd control are non-lethal but can cause injury.
It is highly regrettable that some of the protestors were sent to hospital as a result. It is very unfortunate that some peaceful protestors were injured. That has compounded the situation.
“We are eager to discuss our procedures and ensure the most effective methods of de-escalation and empathetic policing.
That conversation is critical. But the consequences of quickly defunding our department, reversing a multi-years agreed-upon plan with the City to meet the needs of our growing area, would significantly lessen patrols in every neighborhood, including our marginalized communities, and reduce our ability to handle local child abuse, sex crime, domestic violence, and robbery/aggravated assault caseloads.
“We request that the City Council first delay action on these resolutions as there are still two months until the final budget is adopted.
These big issues require a big conversation and the citizens of Austin need more than three business days to fully consider the impacts and consequences of these measures as well as several others that will improve our procedures to ensure a safer community of compassion and understanding.
Every citizen of Austin will be affected by this vote on Thursday. You can reach your city councilperson at the following links to make your voice heard ahead of the vote: www.austintexas.gov/contact-us and www.austintexas.gov/email/all-council-members.”
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