Groups look to APD contract negotiations for improved police accountability

August 8, 2017
KXAN

Community groups gathered in front of a city of Austin building Tuesday to send a message to the Austin Police Association and to the Austin City Council: they want more transparency and accountability from Austin police.

The groups, which include the ACLU-Texas, Austin Justice Coalition Grassroots Leadership and others, met Tuesday because they’ve been following APA negotiations with the city over their public safety contract. They want significant modifications to the police contract to ensure “transparency, accountability, and oversight.”

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“We try to come to the negotiating table and say let’s get some citizen oversight and insight that’s coming from the people you engage with,” said Lewis Conway, criminal justice organizer for Grassroots Leadership.

The family of Lawrence Parrish, the man shot by Austin police in April, has also been following these negotiations, hoping they could bring about some of the changes he is looking for. At first Austin police said their four officers fired at Parrish because he had fired at them. Then they revised their statement to say Parrish pointed a rifle at the officers but never fired. APD said Tuesday that while investigations into this case are ongoing, the four officers are now back on full duty.

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Williams believes the contract can help promote a culture of accountability for APD.

“If they can’t do that or at least apologize or be transparent or accountable enough, then we need to come up with another solution,” he said.

That’s why these groups are calling on city council members not to approve the contract agreement if it doesn’t adequately address accountability issues.