Police Chief Art Acevedo is leaving Austin to head up the Houston Police Department. The announcement was made official this afternoon.
Thursday afternoon the mayor of Houston announced Chief Art Acevedo will lead the city's police force.
"I look forward to the challenge and I thank you for the trust and opportunity,” Acevedo said.
Acevedo leaves Austin after serving the city for nine years. He was sworn into position in July of 2007.
He came at a critical time. Austin was experiencing its most deadly month murder-wise in six years and the Department of Justice had just announced it would be launching an investigation into complaints of racial disparity in officer-involved shootings.
Acevedo made it clear back then he would run a transparent department.
"My number one goal was to be visible to the community and visible to the organization, and to get the information because I want to have a certain comfort level when we use deadly force that the force was appropriate,” said Acevedo in August of 2007.
He has maintained that presence through the years gaining praise from community leaders including Mayor Steve Adler.
"It's a sad day for Austin. The chief is much loved and he has helped make Austin safer and in some respects more moral community, a closer community. The city is losing a great leader and I am personally losing a good friend,” said Adler.
Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday says officers are ready for a fresh start.
"We've had several very controversial discipline cases. We've had issues with the DNA lab. We have personnel issues. We have a lot of officers that filed suit against chief and the department. I think it's a good time for that,” said Casaday.
NAACP Chapter President Nelson Linder hopes whoever takes over the role will be someone from within the department who is well-aware of the history regarding race relations and the progress Acevedo has made.
"I'm happy with Acevedo, but I think things move on. So now we're in a different era. We need a new era based on basic policing, which is nuts and bolts policing. That was not his strength. His strength was to create an environment where it can actually occur. I think he did that,” said Linder.
Community policing is one legacy the chief leaves. Casaday hopes the new person in charge will be fair and continue to build on the positives.
"He brought a lot of pride for our department. He sat down and worked with us at creating a new discipline system for minor offenses that has been very successful. So there's a lot of great things that Chief Acevedo has done that we appreciate,” said Casaday.
Acevedo will be officially sworn in on November 30th.
Statement from Acevedo:
I accepted an offer today from Mayor Sylvester Turner to be the next chief of police for the City of Houston. Serving this great city has been the honor of a lifetime. During my nearly ten-year journey with the city, many improvements have been made both within the police department and to our relationship with the community. Together we have addressed many challenges and truly made Austin a safer community. Collectively we have pursued excellence for the Austin Police Department. I believe the timing is right for me to take on the opportunity to work for Mayor Turner and lead the men and women of the Houston Police Department and serve the people of Houston.
Thank you for the tremendous honor of being your chief. I urge you to remember where we were as an organization in July 2007 and what we've accomplished since as a community. We've made great strides and I look forward to the Austin Police Department's continued success.