"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." [node:read-more:link]
Criminal justice organizers with Grassroots Leadership are advocating for an end to the police contract negotiations, known as the meet-and-confer process, that foster a culture of impunity. "'We have met and did not confer,' said Lewis Conway of Grassroots Leadership. 'Because, at this point, that whole meet-and-confer process is useless. It's outdated. There's no fixing it. And part of that process is the Review Panel."' The Austin Chronicle article sheds light on the disparities between police rhetoric and the demands of justice advocates on this broken process.
The article also describes this video created by Grassroots staff Chris Harris showing the comments of APA President Ken Casaday on the brutal arrest of Breaion King in July 2015. "In a harshly spliced video shown during City Council's Aug. 31 meeting, Casaday is seen talking about King's arrest at a bargaining session – reminding city negotiators that two commanders looked at the case and saw 'perhaps a training issue,' but no violation of APD policy. Between his comments are clips from the dash-cam footage of King being wrestled to the ground. 'It's jarring,' said Chris Harris, the film's creator. 'But I think gets across well what we're facing with the meet-and-confer process, and why it's pointless to negotiate under current conditions.' Supporting that point, albeit unintentionally, Casaday reminded that any change to the provision would cost the city elsewhere. These are negotiations, after all." [node:read-more:link]
Grassroots continues to advocate for more civilian oversight and accountability of police in the negotations between Austin Police Association and the City of Austin. "[A] coalition of criminal justice activists, including those from the Austin Justice Coalition and Grassroots Leadership, continue to advocate for scrapping the entire contract, which they say has led to a situation where the two sides too rigidly adhere to what they see as the incredibly flawed original contract language." [node:read-more:link]