Austin City Council did not approve reinstating stipends for APD

The Austin City Council did not approve re-instating stipends for Austin Police officers Thursday night.  Special pay for things like working the overnight shift or speaking two languages.  

Council Members like Allison Alter felt like that was the right call since there's still no contract with the Austin Police Association. She says the union has turned down 2 offers.

"The interim offer would have restored these stipends and offered a lump sum pay raise," Alter said.

"Officers are tired of being disrespected.  We get it from the council with Greg Casar.  These pay stipends weren't reinstated, for a lot of officers that's $500-$1,000 a month," said Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday.

Speaking of Council Member Greg Casar, his "Freedom City" resolutions, items 73 and 74 brought in more than 100 speakers.  73 directs the City Manager to reduce racial disparities related to discretionary arrests -- that's when police officers decide to arrest someone for a ticket-able offense like possession of marijuana.

"When I moved here in 1966, one of the first things I noticed about Austin was that my white friends and acquaintances got probation for what was then felony possession of two joints of marijuana and people whose skin is darker then mine went to prison," said one speaker.  

"I just want to let people know in this room that police officers don't want to take people to jail for minor offenses," Casaday told the audience as the crowd interrupted him.

Since Senate Bill 4 doesn't prohibit officers from asking about legal status, Casar's item 74 ensures officers tell people they legally don't have to answer the question.

"I'm undocumented myself and I understand that direct fear when I interact with police and I completely freeze up and so that means that we can expect that community members, undocumented people will feel safer at interactions," said Yuridia Loera with United We Dream.  

An unexpected element of Thursday's police discussions: country music.  During the stipend pay discussion, Chas Moore with the Austin Justice Coalition used "The Gambler" to prove a point about "holding out" to get more from the union contract.

"I just want to take a moment to just really listen to Kenny Rogers," he said. 

And Willie Nelson's daughters spoke in favor of item 74.  

"Our Dad Willie Nelson wrote a statement about it and Lana's going to read that.  'What's going on at our southern borders is outrageous.  Christians everywhere should be up in arms,'" the two Nelson daughters read.

Loera told Fox 7 Austin on Friday the passage of the Freedom City resolutions was an amazing win.

"Especially considering that at the national level we're experiencing the undocumented immigrant community, the immigrant community, people of color are experiencing actual attacks," Loera said.