Negotiations between the city and the Austin police union are underway to replace the current labor contract that expires in September. The talks include discussions about whether a citizen’s review panel’s disciplinary recommendations should be made public. The city says yes — a position we have long supported. Fortunately, the police union finally is showing signs of siding with transparency on this important matter.
Current rules, negotiated by the city and the Austin Police Association, limit how much information the Office of the Police Monitor, which currently is led by former Travis County Sheriff Margo Frasier, can release about the cases it and a panel of seven citizen volunteers review. The office, as its name implies, monitors police internal affairs investigations, and the review panel recommends to the police chief discipline of police officers in certain cases, including officer-involved shootings. With few exceptions, such as an officer’s suspension, the panel’s recommendations remain secret.
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