BREAKING: Austin council OKs Manley as permanent police chief  

11:25 a.m. update: The Austin City Council unanimously approved Brian Manley’s bid to become Austin police chief after serving more than 18 months as interim chief.

Manley, a veteran officer with deep community and departmental roots built over a nearly 30-year career, had been serving as interim chief before City Manager Spencer Cronk made him the sole candidate for the chief’s job in April.

Before Manley’s predecessor, Art Acevedo, left Austin in November 2016 to lead Houston’s police force, Manley was his right-hand man as chief of staff and a fixture at City Hall and in the community.

Manley will oversee a department of more than 2,600 employees and an annual budget of $422 million, and steer the department’s policies on use of force, civilian oversight, officer discipline, immigration enforcement, Austin’s homeless population, drug trafficking, mental health issues, transparency and training, to name a few.

Earlier: The Austin City Council will spend a large part of their day Thursday weighing key issues facing Austin police, including officer pay, racial disparities in arrests and future leadership at the department.

The first, and likely most significant police item on Thursday’s agenda, will be a vote to confirm interim Chief Brian Manley as the permanent head of the department.

Manley, an Austin native whose 28-year rise through the ranks took him from patrol officer to chief of staff, was tapped to lead the department after former Chief Art Acevedo left in 2016 to become Houston’s top cop.

City Manager Spencer Cronk spent last month taking public comments before selecting Manley as the sole candidate for the job.

Some police critics in the community were disappointed that the search for the next chief had not been opened to a national pool of candidates, and questioned whether Manley could be an effective agent of change in a department where he has spent his entire career.

Council members also will vote on a measure to restore some pay to Austin police officers with additional skills, education and training, or those who work certain shifts.

The stipend pay had been provided under the police union’s old labor agreement with the city. But without a contract in place since the end of last year, officers lost that pay — only to have it restored by the council on a temporary basis while negotiations continued. The temporary measure expired at the end of last month.

The new resolution would restore stipend pay until a new agreement between the police union and city is approved.

Finally, city leaders also will consider a pair resolutions proposed by Council Member Greg Casar that target racial disparity in Austin police arrests and how officers interact with undocumented immigrants.

The first resolution looks at discretionary arrests, which happen when an officer chooses to arrest someone for an offense that could result in a trip to jail or a ticket.

Casar’s measure would call on the city manager to work with Austin police to end most discretionary arrests, and to track when, where and why they are made.

Casar pointed to police data from 2017 that showed Austin police arrested African-Americans at an officer’s discretion at more than double the rate of white and Latino residents, and that blacks were seven times more likely to be arrested for low-level marijuana possession than whites.

The second resolution asks that police leaders vet and scrutinize requests for immigration enforcement assistance to see if they include a criminal nexus, and whether officers have the proper training to carry out duties associated with them.

It also asks police to ensure that people who are questioned about their immigration status by police be informed that they have a constitutional right to remain silent.

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