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Ethics complaint against APD Chief moves forward

Tuesday, January 6, 2015 by Elizabeth Pagano

An ethics complaint against Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo is moving forward.

The complaint, which was filed by Jermaine A. Hopkins, alleges that Acevedo failed to file a public financial disclosure statement for 2012 by the April 2013 deadline, as is required under city code.

Hopkins is a former Austin Police officer who was fired by Acevedo Oct. 30 for failing to follow orders and other violations of department policy, according to APD. His dismissal is currently on appeal.

Hopkins says that a November 2014 Public Information Request for the statement yielded a CD that didn’t contain the statement, but “inaccessible URL links.”

“It wasn’t until I submitted a follow-up communication to the district attorney’s office complaining about public information withholding that the city attorney’s office released the responsive information,” said Hopkins.

On Monday, the Ethics Review Commission voted unanimously to proceed with the complaint and hold another hearing, which is tentatively scheduled for the Jan. 27 meeting.

Though Acevedo was not present at the commission meeting, he did provide a written response. That response reads, in part, “First, I want to take a moment and apologize for this matter being before you and I want you to know that I accept full responsibility. I also want you to know that I take the responsibility to file the statement very seriously.”

Acevedo’s response explains that he and his administrative supervisor, Janet De La Rosa, “both independently recall making several attempts to submit the 2012 statement via the City of Austin website.” He says that they worked together on the problem, and even had to reset his password at one point.

After that, he said, they completed the statement and submitted it. “We received a message that the statement had been submitted,” wrote Acevedo. “Ms. De La Rosa attempted to print the confirmation and report to place a copy on file, but was unable to do so. She recently told me that she had received several error messages and at the time had called the City Clerk’s Office and left a message to that effect.”

The letter also says that after learning about the complaint, Acevedo went to City Hall and submitted “another 20132Statement.” That typo, Acevedo’s absence at the meeting, and several details of both stories led the Ethics Commission to ask for more information — and Acevedo’s presence — when it next takes up the issue.

Commissioners also voted unanimously to request De La Rosa’s presence, as well as a representative from the City Clerk’s office who understood the situation. They also asked for evidence of Acevedo’s attempted filings from the city’s Communications and Technology Management Office and call logs between De La Rosa and Acevedo.

The hearing is currently scheduled for the commission’s next meeting.

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