austin police department

Apr 2, 2018
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KXAN

Process of hiring permanent Austin police chief beginning soon

"During Monday's public safety commission meeting, advocates stressed the importance of the public input process. 

'These hiring processes are really valuable opportunities for us to reflect on what the police are doing,' explained Chris Harris, with Grassroots Leadership. 'What should the next police chief be? What should the department be? How should the department look in 10 years? These are the things that we need to be talking about. These are discussions we need to be having in our city."' Read more about Process of hiring permanent Austin police chief beginning soon

Apr 3, 2018
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Austin Monitor

Will Manley be made police chief? City manager remains mum

"Chris Harris of Grassroots Leadership, one of the groups that has pushed in recent years to increase police accountability, challenged the notion that Manley's handling of the bombings made him right for the job. 

'You say it ain’t broke,' he said, referring to Tyrees comments. 'I think many other people in our community dont share that perspective.'

Harris also argued that there were unanswered questions about the investigation into the bombings, including the police departments initial theory that Anthony House, the first bombing victim, may have made the bomb himself." Read more about Will Manley be made police chief? City manager remains mum

Mar 27, 2018
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The Daily Texan

Parent safety group advocates for APD Chief Manley to become permanent police chief

"Chris Harris, data analyst and campaigns coordinator for Grassroots Leadership, a civil and human rights organization, said a formal process should take place before Cronk makes a final decision.

'It may be harmful to the city to make rash decisions immediately after such a traumatic event for our city,' Harris said.  

Harris said citizens should have the chance to look at other possible candidates for police chief and hear their agenda before a decision is made. 

'Aside from city manager, there may not be (a) more important position that’s hired within the city,' Harris said. 'For us not to go through a similar process … and have the candidates for that position tell us what they’re going to do and then for us to be able to hold them to that — that means we all, as a community, lose out on a valuable opportunity to help shape what the police force will be.'" Read more about Parent safety group advocates for APD Chief Manley to become permanent police chief

Mar 26, 2018
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KXAN

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

Mar 23, 2018
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KUT

Some See Danger In Rush To Appoint Manley Permanent Austin Police Chief

'“It makes no sense to make an appointment as serious as this in the immediate aftermath of something so complex and fast-moving,' said Chris Harris with the criminal justice reform group Grassroots Leadership.

He said the quick appointment of Manley to permanent chief would rob Austinites of the chance to participate in the process by which they normally make important city hires.

'If we don’t take the opportunity to get whomever will be the next chief to be on record as supporting policies that reflect the values of the community,' Harris said, 'then we’ve lost an extremely valuable opportunity to ensure we improve our police force.'" Read more about Some See Danger In Rush To Appoint Manley Permanent Austin Police Chief

Feb 25, 2018
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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
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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

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