Austin police announces new critical incident public release policy

The Austin Police Department (APD) has announced a new policy that requires the release of relevant video footage of a critical incident within 10 business days of its occurrence. 

This includes body-worn cameras and digital in-car video footage. 

The goal is to publicly release any footage of a critical incident in a timely manner utilizing a streamlined process, according to a press release from the police department. 

During this process, the Chief of Police will consult with the Travis County District Attorney’s Office and the Office of Police Oversight to determine what information and video footage may be released. If the Chief of Police determines a release will not occur, or a delay of the release is necessary, the department will send a statement notifying the public of the release status and reason for the delay.

If necessary, released materials may be redacted and edited to protect privacy rights and to avoid the release of information that is prohibited by state law. Such redactions or edits will not affect the depiction of events presented in the video, according to APD.

A live news conference will provide preliminary information regarding the critical incident investigation and the initial public viewing of the content, according to APD. The news conferences will be available via a live stream accessible on APD’s social media platforms. 

This policy defines "critical incidents" as:

  • Officer-involved shootings, including unintentional discharge while in the course of duty or in response to a call, regardless of whether a person was hit by gunfire and even if no allegation of misconduct is made
  • A use of force resulting in death or serious bodily injury as defined by Section 1.07, Texas Penal Code
  • All deaths while an arrestee/detainee is in the custodial care of the Department
  • Any other police encounter where the Chief of Police determines the release of video furthers a law enforcement purpose
  • This General Order does not include or apply to officer-involved shootings of an animal, an unintentional discharge during pre-shift equipment checks, or during training/qualifications on the firing range 

Click here to view APD policies and procedures

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