City of Austin apologizes for police problem tweet


The city of Austin has apologized for a tweet advising visitors attending South By Southwest to contact the police monitor’s office if they have a problem with officers after it angered law enforcement officials and drew criticism online.

“Welcome #SXSWers! We know you’re loving Austin but if you experience a problem with police, let us know. 512-974-9090 austinpolicemonitor.com,” the city tweeted Monday night. (The actual link to the website is austintexas.gov/department/police-monitor.)

“Wow!” one officer replied on the social media site. “That’s just wrong.”

“Also tell visitors to SXSW that ATX is 2nd safest large city thanks to the hard work of APD,” another said.

Then Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo weighed in: “@austintexasgov If you want to commend a member of @Austin_Police please drop me a line at art.acevedo@austintexas.gov. Enjoy ATX!”

Other Twitter users accused the city of throwing the department under the bus. Meanwhile, about 30 people had retweeted the information Tuesday, and about 10 people had clicked “favorite.”

On Tuesday, though, the city tweeted an apology.

“@ArtAcevedo @Austin_Police does an extraordinary job under extraordinary conditions @sxsw,” the city wrote. “Apologies if (office of the police monitor) message gave wrong impression.”

In a statement, the city said that the information in the original tweet was accurate but that the tone was inappropriate, “and not released in good judgment.”

“The tweet can be interpreted that there are problems with the Austin Police Department and its relationship with the public during SXSW,” the city said in a statement. “That is not our intent. APD is one of the best in the nation and serves the community daily – including visitors to SXSW and other major events – with professionalism and concern.”

Margo Frasier, the city’s police monitor, said there were no incidents or problems that prompted the tweet.

“It was part of our effort to let visitors know where to go IF there was a concern,” she said in an email. “It was never intended to give the impression that there would be a problem.”

Sgt. Wayne Vincent, president of the Austin Police Association, called the tweet “a slap in the face to any cop that works in the city.”

In a letter sent to City Manager Marc Ott, Vincent said officers were “completely demoralized” by the tweet.

“I have never seen such a divisive message used by city government officials in what we see as a calculated public-relations assault on the men and women you profess to respect,” he said in the letter.

Vincent said he and the union “flatly reject any assertion that this was merely an attempt to educate the public on how to file a complaint against a police officer.” He also aired in the letter numerous complaints about the work conditions for officers during SXSW that he said the association has tried to resolve behind the scenes. Among several other issues cited, Vincent said patrol officers on motorcycles are forced to work 10 or 12 days straight while switching from night to day shifts.

“For your office to suggest that visitors will have problems with the police is incompetence at best and a calculated shot in a political war with your police at worst,” he said.

A city spokesman said Ott was aware of the letter but did not have a comment.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

AISD board approves raise, contract extension for Superintendent Cruz
AISD board approves raise, contract extension for Superintendent Cruz

The Austin school board Monday night approved a 1.5 percent raise and one-year contract extension for Superintendent Paul Cruz as part of the school leader’s annual evaluation. The changes bring Cruz’s base salary to $310,958 and his contract through Dec. 31, 2020. School board President Kendall Pace read a statement summarizing Cruz&rsquo...
Texas Digest: Boy’s body found on beach

GULF COAST Police seek help to identify dead boy on beach Police are asking the public to help identify a young boy whose body was found on a beach in Southeast Texas. Galveston police said that the boy, age 3 to 5 years, was found Friday evening and that no one has reported a child missing. Authorities have been unable to find a child matching his...
Former Austin Republican state Rep. Bob Richardson dies at 72
Former Austin Republican state Rep. Bob Richardson dies at 72

Former state Rep. Bob Richardson, R-Austin, died Monday of complications from surgery to treat a hip fracture, attorney Don Cotton of the Bob Richardson Law Firm, told the American-Statesman. He was 72. Richardson unseated Democratic state Rep. Russ Tidwell and served in the Texas House for three terms — 1985 to 1991. Before running, Richardson...
Prosecutors drop all remaining charges against Rep. Dawnna Dukes
Prosecutors drop all remaining charges against Rep. Dawnna Dukes

Travis County prosecutors dropped all of the remaining charges against longtime state Rep. Dawnna Dukes on Monday, bringing an end to a legal soap opera that could have put the lawmaker behind bars. Instead, the saga concluded with a jubilant Dukes announcing on a Facebook post that she would seek reelection next year. “I am looking forward to...
CANCHOLA TRIAL: Murder charge tossed after medical examiner’s flip-flop
CANCHOLA TRIAL: Murder charge tossed after medical examiner’s flip-flop

A man who is suspected of beating his boyfriend to death no longer faces several felony charges, including a murder charge, after a Travis County judge tossed out the bulk of a medical examiner’s controversial testimony on Monday. State district Judge David Wahlberg reversed his ruling from last week, announcing statements given from the witness...
More Stories