AUSTIN (KXAN) — During a discussion on the Austin Police Department’s use of force practices Monday, APD Police Chief Joseph Chacon outlined a new departmental system in place to more effectively review incidents moving forward.
Previously, Chacon said use of force incidents classified as Levels 2-4 — lower level incidents that comprise the majority of use of force incidents — would go through the involved officer’s chain of command for review and analysis before potentially furthering it to a special investigations unit or the district attorney’s office.
Now, the department utilizes a force review unit (FRU), a team comprised of nine sergeants and a lieutenant that launched in 2021. The FRU now reviews all departmental use of force incidents to help more objectively decide whether or not an officer’s actions were aligned with APD policing conduct, Chacon said.
The discussion stemmed from Monday’s public safety commission meeting and further analysis of the Kroll report, an independent review of APD’s use of force practices conducted by Kroll Associates, Inc.
That report found that out of 1,321 cases where use of force was used, the report flagged 112 “problematic” incidents or inappropriate use.
During Monday’s meeting, Chacon said 20 specific incidents flagged had undergone review by APD’s chains of command. One, deemed a Level 1 use of force incident, went to the special investigations unit and to the DA as part of department policy.
The remaining 19 were reviewed again, this time by the newly formed FRU. Under the FRU’s analysis, all 19 incidents were determined “objectively reasonable” based on the “totality of circumstances.”
Chacon added that through a more centralized review system, his hope is to help eliminate any potential bias that an officer might receive. Instead, he added using a single body to evaluate all incidents could help streamline the process, as opposed to sergeants reviewing cases from officers under their oversight.