Austin City Council passes resolution to support investigation into racism allegations at APD

The Austin City Council has unanimously passed a resolution to support an independent investigation into racism and discrimination allegations within the Austin Police Department.

The most controversial part of the resolution could delay the start of APD's June 2020 cadet class.

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Close to 50 People spoke on the topic during Thursday’s City Council meeting.

The resolution was spurred by allegations that Assistant Police Chief Justin Newsom used racist language when speaking about African Americans. 

RELATED: Resolution could temporarily halt future cadet classes at Austin PD

City council passed a resolution supporting the city manager’s independent investigation into that, including an audit of text messages, emails and social media posts made by officers. 

The resolution will delay the start of a police cadet class in June 2020 unless suggested changes have occurred 30 days before then. 

Before council considered the resolution, the Austin Justice Coalition held a joint press conference with the Texas Police Officers Association. 

“It’s about racism within the already racist institution of policing,” said Chaz Moore with the Austin Justice Coalition. 

Both groups agreed on one thing: it’s time for a comprehensive investigation into racism within the Austin Police Department. 

“Because of the things that have come out recently, you would not believe the complaints that we’ve gotten from several officers of a lot of different problems that are still happening and have been happening,” said Detective Tonya Jefferson with the Austin Police Department who is the treasurer of the Texas Police Officers Association. 

However, the second piece of the resolution, that could delay the cadet class, was a little more controversial. 

“Holding off on that class... there are less officers on the street to respond to the community calls for service,” said Sergeant Chandra Ervin, president of the Texas Police Officers Association. 

Currently there are 167 vacancies on the department.  Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday said delaying any new hires could negatively impact public safety. 

“It’s not uncommon for us to go to work, with a shift that’s supposed to have 8-10 people, with four people. That’s dangerous for the community and it’s dangerous for officers,” said Casaday. 
Mayor pro tem Delia Garza said after hearing these allegations she has lost faith in Police Chief Brian Manley. 

Manley said he welcomes the investigation, however he has some concerns about vacancies on the department. 

Council said an initial report on the investigation should be completed by December 2020. With the final report completed by December 2021.