Policing & Community Safety

APD, DPS brief Public Safety Committee on suspended partnership

DPS vehicle. Image via Austin Monitor by adonis paul hunter

More than a week after the Austin Police Department announced its controversial partnership with the Texas Department of Public Safety had come to a close, law enforcement officials on Monday briefed the city’s Public Safety Committee on the now-defunct deployment and responded – again – to City Council members’ concerns about equity and transparency.

Public opinion split on whether APD-DPS partnership should continue

Screengrab from public safety meeting of Cynthia speaking into microphone

Ample feedback was given to City of Austin leadership to review before deciding what’s next for the APD-DPS partnership. A specially called meeting of the city’s public safety committee happened on Monday, where dozens of speakers showed up to make their feelings heard. Some of those speaking out shared where they see value in the partnership while others said it’s impacting communities differently.

Prop A awaits legislative battle in Austin before police oversight implementation

Screengrab from Spectrum video showing Alycia sitting at the Capitol

“Saturday, it was just like this collective sigh of relief from all of us when we realized we did it,” Castillo said. For Alycia Castillo, her fellow Equity Action colleagues and those advocating for increased police oversight, the passage of Proposition A in Austin on May 6 was a long-awaited win.

Watch the full video from Spectrum News.

Bill to Remove ‘Rogue’ DAs Passes Senate

The dome of the rotunda inside the Texas State Capitol | Image by Rudy Mareel/Shutterstock

A bill that would allow for the removal of district attorneys who institute non-prosecution policies has passed the Texas Senate with bipartisan support. Senate Bill 20, authored by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston), passed the Senate earlier this month. The proposal passed by a vote of 20 to 11, with Sen. Juan Hinojosa (D-McAllen) voting alongside Republicans.

Houston police union, criminal justice attorney differ on reforms amid Tyre Nichols killing, botched Galveston raid

A group of demonstrators protest outside a police precinct in response to the death of Tyre Nichols, who died after being beaten by Memphis police officers, in Memphis, Tenn., Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023. photo via Houston Public Media

Five other officers seen on video beating Nichols were fired and charged with second degree murder and other offenses. And locally, Galveston’s police chief Doug Balli has been placed on administrative leave after police botched a raid. While the cases are not related, the two incidents have sparked conversations about police training.

City council votes to send Austin Police Oversight Act to your ballot

Screengrab of KXAN video with headline "city council reinstates license plate readers"

The future of Austin Police transparency is in the hands of Austin voters after city council failed to adopt the Austin Police Oversight Act Thursday night. The item will go in the city’s election in May. After a local nonprofit collected enough signatures to put the Act before Austin City Council, the council was required to vote to either adopt the act or to send it to voters.

Read the rest of this article from KXAN.

Pushing for Real Police Oversight in Contract and on the Ballot

Illustration of a magnifying glass with an eye looking into an open filing cabinet with folders labeled "classified" and "violent conduct"

Somewhere deep in the Austin Police Department's computer database sit the personnel files of each of its approximately 1,800 officers. Those files include their disciplinary histories, which may include details about unnecessary violence or unethical conduct, Internal Affairs investigations, and the punishments meted out for misconduct. Most officers won't have much or any disciplinary history. But some, almost certainly, have multiple instances of discipline in their files.

Remembering Sandra Bland 7 years after her death in a Texas jail

Protestors holding signs that read "the whole truth and nothing but the truth" "what happened to Sandra Bland?""justice for Sandra Bland"

Today is Sandra Bland Day in Austin. The day was proclaimed in 2019 to remember Bland, whose suspicious 2015 death sparked outrage. Bland died in a Waller County, Texas jail cell in 2015 at the age of 28, but her death is still under speculation to this day.

Read the full article from Spectrum News Austin.

How Much Power Do Police Oversight Offices Really Have?

Protesters stand outside of the APD headquarters with a sign reading Defund police add budget $402M

Negotiations between Austin officials and the police were breaking down in part over the city’s attempts to increase police accountability in 2018. The city’s citizen review panel disbanded. Finally, that November, the parties reached an agreement, though tensions remained. A new office was created and staffed by civilians rather than police: The Office of Police Oversight.

Read the rest of this article from Texas Observer.

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