AUSTIN (KXAN) - Austin City Manager Marc Ott said he wants "an objective set of eyes" on the Austin Police Department's use-of-force policies and called for the U.S. Department of Justice to examine those policies.
"While DOJ has done a thorough evaluation and made recommendations on APD policies and procedures," Ott said, "I'd like them to evaluate our practices to ensure that our actions are consistent with those policies."
Ott said his office will reach out to the DOJ on the issue and ask for access to the department's community relations service.
"It's clear to me we need to have a broader dialog around APD's use of force issues and we'll be talking to them about the best course of action to do that."
Ott was quick to point out that asking for outside help should not cast a dark shadow over the department.
"I want to be clear that this does not signal any lack of faith in (Police Chief Art) Acevedo, his leadership team, (or) the men and women of the Austin Police Department," the manager said. "I simply feel we need an objective set of eyes to come in and help us deal with this issue."
Assistant Chief Brian Manley said the department is open to a review from the federal agency, saying it already has implemented several of the recommendations made the last time the Justice Department looked at APD in 2007.
"We are an organization that the welcomes the opportunity to improve ourselves," said Manley, who is acting as chief while Acevedo is on leave for the death of his mother.
Following the announcement, Acevedo posted on Twitter that he welcomed the transparency saying, "Transparency breeds trust, trust breeds cooperation, and cooperation breeds safety!"
The call for outside review comes after Larry Jackson Jr. was shot and killed by an Austin police detective on July 26.
Police say Jackson started running from the Benchmark Bank after providing false information to a bank employee about who he was. Det. Charles Kleinert, who was investigating a robbery at the bank that happened a few hours earlier, ran after Jackson. Minutes later Kleinert fatally shot Jackson.
The department is investigating whether Kleinert violated department policy by chasing Jackson. In the APD Policy Manual, there are more than a dozen reasons listed why an officer should consider stopping a foot pursuit.
Last week, Nadia Stewart, the police association lawyer representing Kleinert said confidential discussions from the internal affairs investigation were leaked to a reporter.
Stewart took the first step toward filing a formal complaint against the Austin Police Department on August 2 because she said the leak taints what is supposed to be an objective investigation.
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