On Nov. 1, the Austin Police Department will implement a new "cite and release” policy
Before, the department had 11 factors that qualify for arrests. They've trimmed that list down to four factors, meaning there are now fewer reasons to arrest someone. The four remaining factors include an imminent threat to public safety and severely disorderly conduct.
In this new revised policy, people who are accused of K2 possession, certain offenses related to driving with an invalid license, and some graffiti offenses, can now be cited instead of arrested. The policy was adopted to issue tickets instead of making low-level arrests. Activists are supporting the changes, saying they could help eliminate some racial disparities.
"That person may have additional financial burdens, that person may have their car impounded, that person may lose their job and they may stay in jail for a week to two weeks because they can't make the bond," said Asst. Chief Troy Gay, Austin Police Department.
"It's important for police to exercise their citation option to make sure people aren’t unnecessarily brought into the justice system, especially for things that the public at large does not consider public safety concerns,” said Chris Harris, data analyst for Grassroots Leadership.
The changes were a result of several stakeholder groups meeting with the department.