City memo outlines recommendations to eliminate racial inequities within APD

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The City of Austin’s Chief Equity Officer released recommendations aimed at eliminating racial iniquities within the Austin Police Department, including training for leadership and cadets, developing a checks and balances system and transparency in communication.

The recommendations, sent in a Dec. 29 memo to Austin Mayor Steve Adler and City Council, included the following:

  • Develop an understanding of the history of institutionalized racism and its impact on
    poor communities and communities of color.
  • Utilize training defined by anti-racist principles and embed that in cadet academy and
    leadership development.
  • Create a clearly defined roadmap with appropriate metrics, benchmarks, and milestones
    that define and gauge progress towards antiracism.
  • Demonstrate transparency in regularly communicating with internal and external
    stakeholders.

The memo outlined the work of two entities that documented racial inequities within the police department, including a report from Joyce James Consulting and third-party evaluator The Peace Mill Research and Communications’ analysis of seven division-level equity assessment responses and Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

Findings showed the following:

  • Erosion of community trust
  • Practices and procedures that contribute to a culture of fear
  • Incomplete data collection and analysis
  • Failure to codify equity standards
  • Lack of institutional and individual understanding among leadership with regard to principles of equity and inclusion

The analysis was part of a 2015 City Council Resolution that directed the City Manager to evaluate the impact of existing policies on racial equity and included the development of an Equity Assessment Tool. Based on responses to that tool, a third-party evaluator was to develop analysis and that department was to come up with an action plan that could be implemented within a year.

In 2018, City Manager Spencer Cronk mandated all city departments go through that process. The following year, the Equity Office started with APD.

A previous outside investigation led by San Antonio lawyer Lisa Tatum into what included allegations of racism within APD concluded in April 2020, but interviews with over 58 witnesses and over 74 different conversations led to no evidence to prove or disprove claims.

Equity Office Staff are expected to follow up with APD division leads in January and February to discuss the next steps of the equity assessment process, which the memo says includes developing an action plan with specific interventions to address those areas.

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