Public Budget Hearing: No More Paying for Police Misconduct!
Whether you regularly attend AJC meetings or you’ve only been once or twice, please consider helping out this week. This week the City of Austin is holding a public hearing on the City budget, which includes funding for the Austin Police Department. This is our chance to send a strong message to the City of Austin, that we expect to see significant improvement in police accountability if we’re going to continue to support wage and benefit increases for officers.
THERE ARE THREE WAYS YOU CAN HELP!
1. Attend the City Council Meeting
The more people we have in the room, the stronger our message to the City will be. The meeting is in the main chamber at City Hall downtown. There’s a parking lot under the building and they will validate inside City Hall. The agenda item will be scheduled to start at 4 pm, but it’s likely to go late, so even if you can’t come until after 5 pm, you should still come, and wear your AJC shirt if you have one!
2. Speak at the City Council Meeting
If you’ve never spoken at a City Council meeting before it might sound intimidating, but it’s actually pretty easy and you’ll have lots of support if you do it. Having large numbers of AJC members speaking will make an especially strong impact, so come and speak if you can. When you first arrive you can sign up at a kiosk (the first 20 people will get 3 minutes to talk, and all the rest will get 1 minute). Below, you’ll find a list of AJC’s recommendations to City Council. You can speak on one of these topics, or just make a general statement about your support for our recommendations.
AJC’s Recommended Changes to Meet and Confer (Current Contract Between Police Unions & City)
1. Suspensions should not be automatically reduced to the written reprimand and the chief should be able to consider all past misconduct in a future discipline.
2. The Chief should be able to discipline an officer if facts emerge after 180 days has passed.
3. History of misconduct should be included as a system of deductions from the scoring system used to promote officers.
4. Citizens should be able to make phone and online complaints, and management should be able to make a preliminary review of any evidence without a “verified” statement.
5. The Citizens Review Panel should be able to freely ask questions, subpoena witnesses, and evidence, and listen to witnesses at the same time as the panel hears from police officers and union reps.
6. The Office of Police Monitor should have the power to initiate investigations, even if a citizen has not filed a complaint.
7. Transparency should be increased by publishing transcripts of interviews with officers and disciplinary decisions and make these readily available to the public.
8. Reports and recommendations should be released to the public without expurgation based on the city legal’s further determination that other possible exceptions to the Public Information Act could be claimed.