AUSTIN, Texas — Austin's police union rejected two proposals Tuesday aimed at police accountability.
Austin Police Association allowed its contract to expire December 29, 2017, taking with it bonus pay provisions for officers and several accountability measures like the Citizen Review Panel. It also greatly limited access of the Office of the Police Monitor.
At issue Tuesday were two protections the Police Monitor proposed eliminating. One is the so-called 48-hour rule, which allows officers to review all evidence before making an official statement to Internal Affairs regarding their involvement in an incident. That includes incidents like officer-involved shootings.
The other is the so-called 180-day rule, which gained national attention in 2016 after video surfaced of Austin school teacher Breaion King being thrown to the ground during a traffic stop. Then APD Chief Art Acevedo said he was frustrated that his hands were tied because the contract prevented him from rendering discipline after 180 days. He learned of the incident more than a year later.
Social justice advocates, like Chris Harris with Grassroots Leadership, question the police union's desire to get a contract in place.
"We are in a different time," he said, referring to the time the previous contract was negotiated six years ago. "Our community and the national trends are moving toward more police accountability, more police oversight, more transparency. They refuse to budge on any of this, yet still demand all of their money."
On October 18, 2018, APA President Ken Casaday approached the City Council. He signed up to speak on an agenda item unrelated to contract negotiations.
"We have been waiting, and there is nothing but foot dragging and a waste of time by this Council," he said. "We need to get back and get this contract done immediately. I hope you understand my anger."
Casaday went on to swear at the Council and said they were being disingenuous about contract negotiations. He declined requests for comment Tuesday. Casaday said he won't speak publicly until negotiations are finished.