AUSTIN, Texas - More than two years after protests in May 2020, the Austin Police Department released its After Action Report. It analyzes the police response and gives recommendations for improvements.
"We were underprepared for this event without a doubt," Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon said. "We had never faced anything of this scale, we were prepared for something that would've been much lower in scope."
Chacon says they've been working on the report since that summer. Changes in leadership played a role in the timeline.
"I'm proud of the progress we've made, but also understand we have a lot of work to do," he said.
The report lists 17 areas of analysis. One of the improvements is revamping de-escalation training - using active listening, clear communication, maintaining a safe distance, explaining actions and consequences, and getting additional resources.
- 5 APD officers indicted for actions during May 2020 protests sue city, others
- Two more APD officers indicted for actions during May 2020 protests
- 19 APD officers each charged with 2 counts of aggravated assault
There are also improvements to Mobile Field Force and better crowd management and riot control training.
In 2020, not everyone was familiar with what the Special Response Team had to do, even though all personnel were on tactical alert. Now, there's training across units so officers know how to respond more cohesively.
APD stopped using bean bag guns when they didn't work as expected. This action demonstrated the department's ability to adapt to evolving circumstances," Chacon said.
The report says pepper balls may be used in the future.
Other items include poor communication when calling officers in and with command in the chaos. The analysis calls for a better deployment plan despite being short-staffed.
It also says officers were assaulted about 250 times that weekend. Going forward, it recommends better protective gear and using physical barriers instead of using officers to make barriers.
"I can promise you that we will never see another response similar to the one in summer of 2020. The way that we have changed our policies, our training, and the cross-training that we're doing across the department will ensure that we are better prepared, better trained, better equipped than we've ever been before," Chacon said.
As for the officers that were indicted, Chacon says there are no updates on that. They're still on administrative leave.
For the full report, click here.