AUSTIN (KXAN) - The Department of Justice has ended a nearly four-year-long investigation into the use of force by the Austin Police Department.
There have been some high-profile use of force cases which have led to criticism of the department by civil rights groups.
Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell said the police department is one of the best in the country and that Austin is one of the safest cities in country because of that department.
"Police work is an inherently dangerous job," said Leffingwell.
DOJ officials did, however, offer some recommendations, which Leffingwell said were "minor changes" that Chief Art Acevedo will take into consideration.
DOJ's four recommendations
- An early intervention system, identifying officers who demonstrate a tendency to violate policy.
- Internal Affairs should conduct investigations in an objective and probing manner.
- APD's Force Review Boards should identify potential tactical or training issues in uses of force that could be corrected to minimize uses of force.
- Austin's Office of the Police Monitor should provide objective, public reports on the conduct of APD's internal affairs.
The mayor said the city of Austin is very happy to receive this recommendation from the DOJ.
"It is an investigation that has been going on so long we almost forgot that we had one," said Leffingwell.
Acevedo said the report is vindication for all the officers standing in the room, about two dozen who were involved in use of force incidents.
The police chief said the investigation is an opportunity to have validation in what they were doing.
However, civil rights leaders say the DOJ findings are nothing to celebrate.
"They find concerns here, not of constitutional violation, but they still need to be addressed," said NAACP President Nelson Linder. "That is not vindictation in my opinion, that says there is more work to be done."
Linder helped filed the 2004 complaint which spurred the investigation following the deaths of Sophia King and Jesse Lee Owens, both killed by officers.
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