Updated: Monday, 21 Dec 2009, 5:25 PM CST
Published : Monday, 21 Dec 2009, 10:52 AM CST
AUSTIN (KXAN) - The Austin Police Department plans to change its use-of-force policy, which was recommended almost a year ago by the U.S Department of Justice.
It has been nearly a year since the U.S. Department of Justice sent the Austin Police Department a 50-page report outlining changes should be made to the department’s use of force policy.
"Of the 165 action items I am proud to say that we completely concur of 161 of those action items," said Caevedo.
Acevedo added the overhaul is about 80% complete. In mid 2007 the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice launched an investigation into APD after complaints from watch dog groups like the Texas Civil Rights Project.
"This process is bringing police and the community together in trying to heal some of the issues that we have had in the past and learn and help eachother," said Jim Harrington of Texas Civil Rights Project.
The Department of Justice determined APD needed to revise its use of force policies and adopt an appropriate use of force continuum. Now officers will receive more training and undergo an annual recertification process.
"When they log onto their mobile digital computers in the morning they cannot do anything else until they answer certain questions inquiring on their understanding of use of force," explained Acevedo.
There are also changes in terms of supervisor oversight, within minutes of a officer involved shooting a Sergeant will have to respond to the scene and the internal investigations process is also being revamped.
"This is to ensure we have proper training, proper proceedures, proper protocol but most importantly that we have a culture of accountability and a culture of respect," said Acevedo.
Civil rights activists say the changes are long overdue but show that APD is on the right track.
"We have moved in a very critical and positive in the history of Austin," said Harrington.
Nelson Linder with NAACP of Austin has long been concerned about APD’s use of force policy, and its Internal Affairs Investigations practices. Back in August, Linder held a media conference asking the police department to move forward in implementing Department of Justice recommendations.
At that time, Acevedo said the police department was working on
plan but that it would take time to create the appropriate policies