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Committee wants more responses from chief

Tuesday, June 26, 2018 by Jo Clifton

The City Council Audit and Finance Committee accepted an audit from the Office of the City Auditor Monday that faulted the city’s processes in dealing with recommendations from the Citizen Review Panel to the chief of police. All the members of the committee present agreed that the public needs more information about the results of complaints lodged against police officers. (Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo did not attend the meeting because of a conflicting appointment.)

In particular, Council Member Alison Alter and Mayor Steve Adler both said Brian Manley, newly sworn in as the city’s chief of police, should take another look at the idea of releasing a response to all the complaints sent to the chief by the review panel. During the time frame studied from Oct. 1, 2013, to Dec. 29, 2017, the panel wrote 28 memos concerning complaints against officers, the majority of which related to officer-involved shootings. However, the panel only received 10 written responses to those memos. Part of the problem auditors noted was that city policies prevented the Citizen Review Panel from communicating directly with the chief, “which may have affected the integrity of the oversight.”

The Austin Monitor reviewed the audit and detailed the auditor’s recommendations on June 22. Assistant Chief Chris McIlvain oversees the part of the department that includes the Internal Affairs Division. He told the committee members he would relay their request to the chief as well as to the Law Department, which was also instrumental in slowing down recommendations from the citizen panel to the chief, according to the audit. City management and the Police Department concurred with the recommendations made in the audit. However, in each case management noted that any implementation plan would be determined “should a labor contract with the Austin Police Association be approved by Council.”

Ken Casaday, president of the APA, told the Monitor, “We fixed all those problems mentioned (by auditors) in the contract the city decided to vote down” in December. “That’s why city management was happy with what they got in the labor contract.”

Casaday said under that rejected agreement the police monitor would have been able to send reports from the Citizen Review Panel directly to the chief, and the chief would have been required to respond. Casaday also said that he expects the change to be part of any new contract.

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Photo by John Flynn.

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