City, Austin police union reach tentative contract

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The city and the Austin Police Association have come to a tentative agreement for a police contract. Officers have been without a contract for almost a year. 

Last December, the city council voted unanimously to reject a police contract that had been negotiated for months, citing concerns about accountability and transparency. A week later, the Austin Police Association decided to operate under a civil service law instead of renegotiating with the city council. Part of the negotiations after that were delayed as the city searched for a new city manager. 

Officers have been paid less and their retirement plans changed, which prompted more than two dozen officers to leave last December. The police union said in August about 10 officers were leaving each month.

The APA posted a video on its Facebook page outlining parts of its discussion with the city Thursday. Part of the agreement would give new hires a one percent raise after their first year, then two percent raises for the next three years. 

“I believe the outcome of the negotiations has resulted in a fair deal that balances the priorities of our community, our police officers and our City leaders,” City Manager Spencer Cronk said.

Police officers will get a one percent raise next year, then two percent the following years. It also reinstates extra pay to officers for special skills like speaking Spanish or working odd hours. 

Office of Police Oversight 

In conjunction with the contract announcement, City Manager Spencer Cronk sent a memo to City Council laying out plans to create an Office of Police Oversight.

The Austin Police Monitor, Farah Muscadin, told KXAN it is, “built on the three pillars of transparency, accountability and community engagement, it will cement the City of Austin’s position as the leader for civilian oversight in the State of Texas.”

Next steps

The tentative agreement struck between city staff and the leaders of the Austin Police Association is leaving nobody ecstatic but many content.

APA President Ken Casaday said he’s “pleased” with the deal and called it “fair”. 

Those wanting extensive police oversight say it’s OK but not the best.

“When you’re starting from the bottom, you have a long way to go,” said Chris Harris, from the advocacy group Grassroots Leadership.

He says the new office of police oversight will allow more people to submit complaints against police and then find out the results and details of those complaints. Reports will be published monthly.

“Critical incidents will be more transparent now in terms of being a public release of investigation files. These include the most serious incidents of police violence,” Harris said.

Council will vote next week on the Oversight Office. Then later this month, council and officers will decide whether to approve the tentative contract. 
 

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