AUSTIN (KXAN) - The AustinPolice Department plans to change its use-of-force policy,which was recommended almost a year ago by the U.S Department ofJustice.
It has been nearly a year since the U.S. Department of Justicesent the Austin Police Department a 50-page report outliningchanges should be made to the department’s use of forcepolicy.
"Of the 165 action items I am proud to say that we completelyconcur of 161 of those action items," said Caevedo.
Acevedo added the overhaul is about 80% complete. In mid 2007the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice launchedan investigation into APD after complaints from watch dog groupslike the Texas Civil Rights Project.
"This process is bringing police and the community together intrying to heal some of the issues that we have had in the past andlearn and help eachother," said Jim Harrington of Texas CivilRights Project.
The Department of Justice determined APD needed to revise itsuse of force policies and adopt an appropriate use of forcecontinuum. Now officers will receive more training and undergo anannual recertification process.
"When they log onto their mobile digital computers in themorning they cannot do anything else until they answer certainquestions inquiring on their understanding of use of force,"explained Acevedo.
There are also changes in terms of supervisor oversight, withinminutes of a officer involved shooting a Sergeant will have torespond to the scene and the internal investigations process isalso being revamped.
"This is to ensure we have proper training, proper proceedures,proper protocol but most importantly that we have a culture ofaccountability and a culture of respect," said Acevedo.
Civil rights activists say the changes are long overdue but showthat APD is on the right track.
"We have moved in a very critical and positive in the history ofAustin," said Harrington.
Nelson Linder with NAACP of Austin has long been concerned aboutAPD’s use of force policy, and its Internal AffairsInvestigations practices. Back in August, Linder held a mediaconference asking the police department to move forward inimplementing Department of Justice recommendations.
At that time, Acevedo said the police department was working onplan but that it would take time to create the appropriate policiesand procedures.
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