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Chief Acevedo rejects increased salary to pursue Dallas position

Friday, March 12, 2010 by Austin Monitor

City Manager Marc Ott expressed disappointment last night upon receiving word that Police Chief Art Acevedo would reject his offer to increase Acevedo’s annual salary by $12,000 in order to pursue the possibility of being police chief of Dallas.


Ott released a memo he had sent to the chief earlier in the day, outlining his proposal to increase Acevedo’s salary from $181,480 to $188,480 and his deferred compensation from $6,000 to $11,000. Ott requested Acevedo’s response by the end of the day Thursday.


Last Thursday afternoon, Acevedo released a statement that said, “My decision to compete for the Chief of Police job in Dallas is not a reflection of dissatisfaction with my current salary or working conditions. I want to assure you all that my decision to remain in the Dallas process is solely based upon my desire to explore a career option and the challenge of working in a larger diverse urban environment. I know that many of my friends find it hard to believe that I would leave the City of Austin. However, having been raised in Los Angeles County, I truly find Dallas to be a very desirous place to work and live.”


Last night, Ott said he made the offer to Acevedo because, “I wanted him out of the (Dallas) process, sooner rather than later. The intent behind the retention offer was to get him to step out of the process. When you have a leader in an organization that is in the midst of competing for another job, that generates some instability in the organization. And in this case, and for our community…we have lots of people who are concerned, lots of people who have expressed their concern. He was the right chief when they chose him and he still is the right chief today. That is why I tried to be as aggressive as I could to try to get him to step out of the process.”


Ott noted that if Acevedo had taken him up on the offer he would have become the second-highest paid police chief in the state, behind only Houston, which has three times as many employees as Austin. He also said that the $188,480 plus $11,000 deferred compensation offered to Acevedo would be $10,000 more than the current Dallas police chief is making.


With his current salary, Acevedo is the third-highest paid chief in Texas, earning only about $2,000 less than the police chief in San Antonio.


A friend of Acevedo’s who said he had discussed the matter with the chief recently but asked not to be identified, said the key word in considering Acevedo’s motivations was challenge—as noted in his press statement. As chief of Dallas’ police force, with its history of controversy, “you’re going to take a host of problems—some of which have been there for decades—and seeing if you can help that city solve some of its long term issues,” he said.


Acevedo was sworn in as chief on July 19, 2007 after an exhaustive process that included a search by a headhunter firm, several rounds of meetings with elected officials and staff, and a session with the public. He was named to job by then City Manager Toby Futrell after members of the Council gave the choice their blessing.


Acevedo, who spent 10 years with the California Highway Patrol before coming to Austin, was thought to be the best candidate to repair the rift between APD and members of the minority community after several high-profile officer shootings involving minorities. Futrell said a key factor in choosing him was his ability to build relationships with different groups. He was chosen over four other candidates.


Acevedo, who immigrated to the US from Cuba as a child, is the first Hispanic to serve as Chief. He replaced acting APD Chief Cathy Ellison, who was the first African American to ever hold that post.

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