Updated: Monday, 05 Jan 2009, 6:33 PM CST
Published : Monday, 05 Jan 2009, 3:07 PM CST
The Department of Justice submitted a 50-page report with 160 recommendations that the department feels APD should implement. Yet, Police Chief Art Acevedo said throughout the 18-month process, 25 percent of the recommendations have already been put into place.
"The vast remaining recommendations we have already implemented to an extent," said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo. "I am very happy to say that we will be able to completely, completely implement all those changes with very, very minor policy changes."
One change that the DOJ recommended was in the department’s use-of-force policy. It is a subject that the Chief says has already been addressed.
"We now have polices and procedures that require supervisors to respond to the scene of any use of force for determination of assessment of the use of force," said Acevedo.
The investigation came about in 2004 when the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, represented by the Texas Civil Rights Project, filed a federal complaint alleging Austin's black and Hispanic residents were unfairly subjected to excessive force. Then in 2005, the City of Austin requested the Department of Justice do the investigation.
APD said it welcomes the recommendations. One change suggests if a use-of-force call goes out, then a supervisor immediately responds. However, that recommendation has already been implemented. As for the recommendations that still need to be implemented, Acevedo said making those minor changes will make the department "worldclass." Civil rights leaders appeared beside Acevedo at the press conference and believe APD is on the right track, but much work is still needed.
"I think he acknowledges that problems do exist, but more importantly, they have already moved to address these issues in advance is very encouraging," said Linder.
"It gives us an idea of what to look for," said Jim Harrington, with the Texas Civil Rights Project. "It gives us an idea of what the DOJ is concerned about. You noticed the DOJ has not released the department. It's an ongoing relationship."