The Austin NAACP chapter president calls the city council's decision to deny APD's labor contract as destructive and disastrous. He says the city is not as safe with less-experienced officers and low morale.
"They did nothing. They allowed this to spiral out of control us versus them that's not a good thing in my opinion for elected officials to be creating in many ways by not taking action,” said NAACP President Nelson Linder.
NAACP Chapter President Nelson Linder with some highly critical words for city council members after they decided to deny APD's proposed labor contract.
At midnight Friday, the department will fall back under civil service law Linder says undoing more than two decades of hard work. "We've done a lot of good things,” said Linder. “Why not build on that and go forward?"
Among them, creating a panel of citizens to review critical incidents--like officer-involved shootings.
The new contract was set to enhance their powers.
In addition, it would also allow citizens to make anonymous complaints against officers. Another stride to enhance efforts of transparency.
The citizen review panel will be dismantled without a contract.
Some council members cited too high of a pay raise request for voting it down and asked for an extension to go back to the bargaining table.
After ten months of negotiations and one contract extension already used up, Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday chose not to and 92 percent of his members agreed.
"You've got to give public safety, police fire some respect, some credibility cause of what they do every day in this city. You can't lower morale based on you not taking any kind of action. You've got to have that together. So to not give them something to embrace, to me is fairly dangerous,” said Linder.
Linder says to make the situation even more dangerous-- long-term, high ranking officers chose to retire to keep earnings they will no longer be eligible for under civil service law. 33 have to date. "Now you've created a force who has less experience, low morale. There's nothing good about that. That's a disaster,” he said.
A big reason for these officers to retire is they stood to lose tens of thousands of dollars in unused sick time.
APA President, Ken Casaday says council could vote to approve the contract at any time. However, the original negotiator on this issue has retired and a new city manager starts in march. He says it’s unlikely anything will be done until spring.