Council confirms Manley as APD's interim top cop

The Austin Police Department is officially under new leadership.

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo is now Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo.
               
Back here in Austin, his trusted Chief of Staff Brian Manley was confirmed as Interim Police Chief at Thursday's council meeting.

"To lead the department that you grew up in in a city that you grew up in, in a community that I've served for 26 years, it is quite an honor, it's quite humbling," Manley said.

Council Member Greg Casar had some on-the-record questions for him first -- questions about Austin's increase in violent crime and the department's commitment to being local law enforcement not federal immigration enforcement.

That question, Council Member Don Zimmerman took issue with.

"...making sure that community members, be they citizen, non-citizen, documented or undocumented, that to Austin P.D., everyone's going to be treated equally under the law," Casar said to Manley.

"In the context of asking a city employee if they're not going to follow federal law on immigration...did you want to rephrase the question?" Zimmerman said.

City legal allowed the question and Casar clarified he wasn't asking anything unlawful of Manley.

"We will as a department continue to focus on criminality and not status," Manley told council.

This week an Austin Police Department memo obtained by Fox 7 reveals a walk-in freezer at APD's forensic crime lab was broken for nearly a week in March.

"That's a possibility in any lab but that's why you have alarm systems on those freezers that alert you if that happens so you can take an immediate step to fix that.  And unfortunately that system failed as well is what we understand," Manley said.

According to the memo, interim lab supervisor Diana Morales wrote: "Although it would be possible to determine the number of samples stored in freezer 5 during the impacted time frame, there is no way to determine if any samples have been compromised."

Manley says although a lab scientist thoroughly documented what happened, not enough of the right people were notified.

"Scientifically that's the decision they made.  Where we mis-stepped though is they missed an opportunity because they focus on the science of the law enforcement responsibility to our partners in the criminal justice system to make sure we were notifying the District Attorney's office and the defense bar," Manley said.

Manley says they're working with the county on bringing in outside experts to analyze the entire lab to figure out how it got to the point it got to...and the best way to go forward.

Aside from the hotbutton issues Manley was questioned about on his first day on the job, we asked him if being Austin's new permanent police chief is something he's hoping for.

"Are you asking if I'm interested in this job permanently?  Yes I am.  I mean it when I say -- the opportunity, the honor, the ability to serve in the community where I've grown up, it's quite an honor,"


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