meet and confer

Mar 26, 2018

Judge to decide if city can access APD personnel files without contract

"Before the hearing, social justice advocacy groups Grassroots Leadership and the Austin Justice Coalition held a press conference siding with the city. Leaders there say the police associations are using 'access' as a bargaining tool in the restarted contract negotiations. 

The Austin Justice Coalition and Grassroots Leadership are siding with city lawyers. Sukyi McMahon with the coalition says there are too many officer shootings and use of force complaints for police to police themselves. She wants someone who's not an officer watching over." Read more about Judge to decide if city can access APD personnel files without contract

Feb 25, 2018
Austin Chronicle

Police: Special Pay Benefits Back, Contract Negotiations Coming Soon

"After a confusing bit of parliamentary gymnastics, City Council last week approved a pair of amendments directing the city manager to resume meet-and-confer negotiations with the Austin Police Association, and also restoring most of the special pay provisions officers lost when union membership voted against extending the old contract back in December. Though police interests praised the action, the city's activist community left the meeting on Thursday feeling like Council had forgotten the voices that only two months ago called for a new approach to public safety spending. At the tail-end of talks, Grass­roots Leadership organizer Chris Harris summed up the afternoon: 'We're banging our heads against a wall.'

... Harris was more blunt, asking why Council would restore funding when union membership could've agreed to an extension in Dec­ember. 'Three weeks ago, Bryan Richter, the officer that brutalized Breaion King, was finally fired after another brutal arrest,' he said. 'This is a force that still employs Patrick Spradlin, the officer who made blatantly racist remarks to King in the back of the vehicle. Instead of restoring perks that they walked away from, we ask that you restore the oversight that was also lost when the police left the negotiation table and killed their own contract.'

Despite those arguments, council members expressed concern about the impacts on officers and ultimately approved both resolutions. Negotiators will be tasked with increasing field training and longevity in the next round of bargaining. APA President Ken Casaday expressed satisfaction in the results and indicated that the union will be ready to go back to the table as soon as Council gives them a date. As that happens, the activist coalition will continue its work on a plan to overhaul the oversight process with an independent complaint system. 'We'd like to see a chance for something like it to get off the ground and see what it can do,' Harris said. 'And then see how it could be strengthened, potentially, via contract or some other method.'" Read more about Police: Special Pay Benefits Back, Contract Negotiations Coming Soon

Jan 12, 2018
Austin Chronicle

APD’s Napkin Math

"In a memo sent to Council and the mayor on Jan. 3, Grass­roots Leadership's Chris Harris suggested that organizational math points to 'millions of dollars allocated under the old contract' that are now fair game for Council's reallocation into other programs that could address public safety: 'from improvements in forensics, to neighborhood lighting, permanent supportive housing for the homeless, drug & mental health treatment, youth programs, parks, pools and other human services.' Harris puts forward a $10.5 million estimate for special pay items, based on Council's budget questions and a Dec. 21 memo from interim City Manager Elaine Hart." Read more about APD’s Napkin Math

Dec 22, 2017

Austin activists win important victory on abusive policing

"The police union's contract was up this year, and the city and community pressured the Austin Police Association to come up with a more equitable contract. Instead, activists argue, the police came back with some minor reforms that fell far short of what the city asked and demanded huge pay raises in exchange. So organizers flooded a city council meeting for nearly nine hours on Dec. 13 and, aided by national activists DeRay Mckesson and Samuel Sinyangweconvinced the council to reject the contract.

'It was hectic. It was beautiful. It was democracy,' Chris Harris, a campaign coordinator for the Austin-based Grassroots Leadership, told Salon about that night. 'It was also the culmination of a lot of work a bunch of us have put in for a while."' Read more about Austin activists win important victory on abusive policing

Dec 14, 2017
Austin American-Statesman

Austin council votes to send police contract back to negotiating table

'"We have to have something different in place in this town. The time is now,' local activist Chris Harris said. 'This is only once every five years. If we don’t do it now, many of you won’t have another opportunity. So this is your chance, and I really implore you to take it.'

Harris called on the council to recognize that those who spoke against the contract included not just criminal justice advocates, but people who work in public health, mental health, academia, environmental issues and more who came to the council with the message: 'We must vote down this contract. We must begin to rethink public safety in this town in a new way,' he said." Read more about Austin council votes to send police contract back to negotiating table

Dec 13, 2017

Big crowd expected as Austin city council debates APD contract

"Austin police could find out as early as Wednesday if they will have a new contract to work under. A big crowd is expected at City Hall in the afternoon — to call on city council to scrap the entire contract all together.

More than 15 activist groups are asking council to not vote on this deal and rethink it.

'So we want to invest more in the root causes of public safety and that includes things like  mental health services, treatment centers, counseling, youth programs, all up and down the chain and right now we feel we are over allocating to the police,' says Chris Harris, campaign coordinator with Grassroots Leadership." Read more about Big crowd expected as Austin city council debates APD contract

Nov 29, 2017
Texas Observer

How the Expiration of Austin’s Police Union Contract Could be a Rare Opportunity for Reform

"Austin is the latest city where activists have sought police reform by targeting collective bargaining agreements." See this article's publication of the video made by Grassroots Leadership staff member Lewis Conway Jr. showing the Austin Police Union President defend police brutality against Breaion King.

"Activists also argue that some of the proposed reforms are either useless or half-baked. For instance, the union agreed to adjust a rule that APD only has 180 days from the date of any alleged misconduct to investigate and discipline officers. Under that rule, the officer caught on dash-cam video body-slamming Breaion King, a young black elementary school teacher, to the pavement during a 2015 traffic stop wasn’t investigated because higher-ups didn’t know about the incident until after the 180-day window had passed." Read more about How the Expiration of Austin’s Police Union Contract Could be a Rare Opportunity for Reform

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