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Austin narrows down police chief candidates to seven finalists

Tuesday, July 27, 2021 by Alejandro Martínez-Cabrera, KUT

The city of Austin has narrowed the pool of candidates for police chief down to seven.

The finalists are:

  • Joseph Chacon, interim Austin police chief since former Chief Brian Manley retired in March
  • Anne Kirkpatrick, former police chief, Oakland, Calif.
  • Avery Moore, assistant police chief, Dallas
  • Celeste Murphy, deputy police chief, Atlanta
  • Mirtha Ramos, police chief, DeKalb County, Georgia
  • Gordon Ramsay, chief of police, Wichita, Kansas
  • Emada Tingirides, commanding police officer, Los Angeles

City Manager Spencer Cronk said he was excited about the diversity of the candidates. Four of the seven finalists are women. All candidates have served in leadership positions in police departments from Los Angeles to Miami. Some have master’s degrees in areas like law, management, criminal justice and psychology.

Cronk is expected to announce the city’s next top cop by the end of August, according to a city press release.

The new chief will oversee a department that employs 1,809 sworn officers and 734 staff members, with a budget of $240.8 million in Fiscal Year 2020-21.

“The challenges and opportunities related to this initiative alone are many. The chief of police will help APD and the city adapt and emerge from reimagining law enforcement in a manner that improves public safety for all who visit, live and work in Austin,” the release said.

The city received 46 applications for the job from candidates with a diversity of experience and backgrounds. Applications for the position opened three months ago.

The new police chief will take over as community groups demand changes to the department’s culture in the face of accusations of racist behavior among its leadership, concerns about how the academy trains officers and calls for racial justice sparked by the police killing of George Floyd last year.

Last summer, City Council voted to transfer roughly $20 million out of the police department and into other departments, including Austin Public Health and Austin-Travis County EMS. The budget reduction was part of Council’s desire to rethink the role of police officers, in what city executives have called reimagining public safety.

But the backlash has faced its own backlash, with the Texas Legislature passing a bill that prohibits cities that cut their police department’s budgets from raising new property tax revenue and the political action committee Save Austin Now pushing for a proposition that would require certain levels of police staffing.

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