A member of a firm hired to conduct an independent review of the Cedar Park Police Department policies and procedures in criminal investigations shared many of its recommendations Thursday night, including that the department needed to increase training and work on streamlining the way cases were handled.
But Rob Davis — an executive senior vice-president at the firm Hillard Heintze — also told the Cedar Park City Council that the Police Department was doing many things right. The department has a “family atmosphere,” morale was high and officers really liked serving the community, Davis said.
Davis’ recommendations for the criminal investigations unit of the department included improving accuracy in initial reports, holding weekly meetings and creating a standard operating manual.
He also said some detectives in the unit had 60 to 100 cases each, which was an extremely high number. Davis, the former chief of the San Jose Police Department, said he only handled 15 to 20 cases at a time when he was a sergeant.
He also said the criminal investigations unit needed to start a tracking system for managing and supervising cases. Davis recommended that the criminal investigations unit start what he called a “one-stop shop” where victims of crimes such as sexual assaults could go to talk to police, social service advocates and prosecutors at the same time, instead of having to make separate visits.
Davis said Cedar Park police were receptive to his recommendations when he presented the report to them on Thursday. Officers in other departments typically have been critical when hearing his firm’s suggestions, he said.
“After the meeting a number of members of that agency came up and expressed their support recognized they needed to do something and were willing to step up and do it,” Davis said. “That is not normal and that speaks well of the culture here.”
Cedar Park Police Chief Sean Mannix spoke to City Council after Davis made his report and said the study was “very thorough and very credible.” He said the department will follow the recommendations, which would end up helping to modernize it.
“These recommendations will be very easy to follow and won’t require a culture shift,” Mannix said.
Council members voted unanimously to conduct the review in October, more than a month after Greg Kelley and his supporters called for the firing of Police Chief Sean Mannix and Sgt. Chris Dailey.
Kelley was serving 25 years in prison on a child sexual assault charge but was released on bond after a judge found his due process rights were violated during a flawed Cedar Park police investigation.
State District Judge Donna King took issue with several aspects of the investigation, including that Dailey did not corroborate information from the child victim, did not speak to Johnathan McCarty — a friend of Kelley’s who has emerged as another viable suspect — “nor did he conduct any follow-up investigation into Johnathan’s involvement, if any,” King wrote.
Davis said in order to do the study the firm randomly picked 45 cases the Cedar Park Police Department had handled between 2013 and 2017. He did not say whether the Kelley case was one of them.