austin police department

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 18, 2018
Austin Monitor

APD makes final push to get body cameras on all patrol officers

"Chris Harris, a data analyst with Grassroots Leadership, told members of the city’s Public Safety Commission earlier this month that the public accountability the cameras can provide is limited.

'These actually are a conduit for pushing out the police perspective of a particular incident,' he said. 'They’re worn on the police officer, they are the police’s eyes and ears in a particular situation. In that respect, they already are geared toward the officer perspective.'" Read more about APD makes final push to get body cameras on all patrol officers

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

Jan 9, 2018
Austin American-Statesman

Activists calling for improvements to Austin police’s body camera policies

"In its first meeting of 2018, Austin’s Public Safety Commission on Monday discussed opportunities to improve the Police Department’s body-worn camera policy. Austin police began rolling out body-worn cameras to patrol officers in three stations throughout the city in October. By the end of 2017, officers stationed in east, south and central Austin had been outfitted with the devices.

[...] Chris Harris, of the local organization Grassroots Leadership, told the commission that it is important to consider who the body-worn camera policy really works for, and said that in its current form, it is stacked in favor of police." Read more about Activists calling for improvements to Austin police’s body camera policies

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


Subscribe to RSS - austin police department