AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Thursday, a City of Austin spokesperson confirmed to KXAN that City Manager Spencer Cronk has “no plans to fire or demote (Austin Police Department) Chief Brian Manley.”
During a virtual meeting Thursday of Austin City Council’s Public Safety Committee, Cronk told the council members that he really appreciated hearing from them on “how you’ll be holding me accountable.”
“I will also, in turn, hold my entire executive team accountable including our public safety leadership,” Cronk said. “That includes our chief and I’ve had many pointed conversations with him over the past several weeks.”
Council has called for several major reforms to policing, the public safety budget and criminal justice in recent weeks, the committee meeting Thursday was designed to check in on the progress of those reforms and what remains to be done. Cronk published a memo Wednesday about how he plans to carry some of those changes out entitled “reimagining public safety.”
“I assure you that both Chief Manley and the entire public safety team are committed to this transformational change and as we move forward we will uphold everything that we need to do to move forward in that manner,” Cronk concluded.
This comes at a time where movements nationally and in Austin are pushing for transformational changes in policing. Since April, at least 30 community groups in Austin (including Austin Justice Coalition, MEASURE, and Texas Appleseed) have called for Manley to be removed.
As George Floyd’s death at the hands of police in Minneapolis spurred protests nationwide, Mike Ramos’ death after being shot in an incident with Austin police on April 24 has catalyzed calls for change in the Austin area.
Five Austin City Council Members have publicly called for new leadership at APD including Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza, Council Member Greg Casar, Council Member Jimmy Flannigan, Council Member Alison Alter, and Council Member Leslie Pool. Some council members have directly called for Manley to resign or be removed, while others have suggested that public safety leadership in the city as a whole — including assistant chiefs at the police department and assistant city managers — needs to change.
At the committee meeting Thursday, the council went into an executive session with the city manager. The public is not privy to what happens during the executive session, but we do know that the council was meeting under Sec. 551.074 of the Texas Government Code which is designed to allow meetings to “to deliberate the appointment, employment, evaluation, reassignment, duties, discipline, or dismissal of a public officer or employee” or “to hear a complaint or charge against an officer or employee.”
While it is not public information which public officer or city employee was being deliberated or complained against, this conversation happens as calls continue to mount for changes of leadership at the helm of Austin Police.