UPDATE: Public Safety Commission recommends Austin City Council to approve police contract


5:35 p.m. update: Members of Austin’s Public Safety Commission recommended City Council to approve a contract with Austin police that has been under negotiation for the past 10 months.

Several activists spoke out against the contract, saying it does not provide enough oversight and accountability for police officers, and that more could be done to ensure that the bodies charged overseeing the department have access and powers to more effectively do their jobs.

Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday said that while activists weren’t happy, police didn’t get all they wanted either.

Interim Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said the contract improves accountability by allowing citizens to submit anonymous complaints against officers, and allowing complaints to come from the Office of the Police Monitor.

He also said moving forward without a contract could result in mass retirements, and limit the agency’s ability to hire new officers based on a holistic approach, forcing them to instead rely solely on a test.

Members of the city of Austin’s Public Safety Commission will discuss the proposed work contract with Austin police at a meeting on Monday afternoon.

Earlier: The Austin police union, city officials and activists have spent most of the year negotiating the terms of the five-year labor deal.

The proposed agreement would raise pay for officers by 9.5 percent over the next five years, and provide new stipends for patrol officers.

The overall increase in pay, including those stipends, would effectively amount to a 12 percent raise through the life of the contract, police union officials have said.

The increase in pay comes with strings tied to accountability and oversight. Citizens will for the first time be able to make anonymous complaints against officers, and the time frame during which an officer may be investigated for misconduct will be adjusted.

Under the old contract, authorities had 180 days to investigate an incident from the date it occurred. The new contract would start the clock at the date an assistant chief or the police chief learns of it, provided that the alleged misconduct could be criminal.

The clock for policy violations that aren’t criminal will still begin at the date of the incident.

The Austin Police Association said 85 percent of its union members voted in favor of the contract last month.

Local activists and groups, including the Travis County Democratic Party, have urged city leaders to walk away from the contract altogether, saying it does not go far enough to provide oversight of officers.

The Austin Justice Coalition and other social activist groups plan to attend the Monday meeting to address the contract before it goes to the City Council later this month.


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