AUSTIN, Texas — After nearly a year of negotiations, a tentative agreement has been reached between the City of Austin, and the Austin police union Thursday night.
"I believe the outcome of the negotiations has resulted in a fair deal that balances the priorities of our community, our police officers and our City leaders," Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk said.
The four-year contract will be presented to the City Council Thursday, November 15, 2018. Before then, members of Austin Police Association must vote to approve the contract.
This comes almost a year after the City Council rejected the last proposal. At the time, Council Members said they were concerned by the cost of the contract or what they viewed as shortcomings in police oversight.
The new contract includes a seven-percent pay raise spread out over the next four years. The first year will include a one-percent increase starting January 1, 2019. Following years will have two-percent raises, which will also take effect January 1. If approved, officer stipends the week after Thanksgiving.
"I am pleased with the agreement and believe that it resulted in a fair deal that benefits the community, the police department and the men and women of the Austin Police Association," Union President Ken Casaday said.
Also to be considered by City Council Thursday is the creation of a new Office of Police Oversight. It would be similar to the Office of the Police Monitor, but with expanded duties from previous labor contracts.
The new office would be able to accept anonymous complaints from the public. In addition, officer discipline would remain documented permanently; previously, low-level infractions fell off an officer's record over time.
However, criminal justice advocates like Chris Harris with Grassroots Leadership are concerned that the contract precludes the City Council from crafting any police oversight standards apart from the negotiated labor agreement.
"Not having a contract really created an opportunity for the city to create a new, strong independent oversight regime," he said. "It looked like that was going to happen when that ordinance appears on the agenda next week, but unfortunately that's not the case."
The contract can't be changed any further; it can only be approved or denied by the union membership and City Council.