Nearly 40 apply for Austin Police Chief job

Austin

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story stated the application process closed. The City of Austin clarified that the “recruitment process remains open until the position is filled.”

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The process for selecting Austin’s new police chief is ramping up.

The City says the first review of resumes submitted began June 7. The recruitment process remains open until the position is filled.

Assistant City Manager Rey Arellano told the Public Safety Commission that they have received 36 applications so far.

He explained these applicants would be screened by the consulting group, overseeing the hiring process.

In early July, he expects six to 10 of these candidates to be presented to himself and the city’s Human Resources department. They will bring the top candidates to Austin for final interviews and to interact with the community in late July or early August.

Arellano wasn’t able to tell commissioners whether any of the applicants were internal or already employed by the city. However, he did say they were searching nationwide for candidates, noting the city manager was even open to international applicants.

The Commission’s Vice Chair Nelly Paulina Ramirez told Arellano she hoped they would continue to consider candidates who would keep reforms top of mind.

“I’m just really hopeful that in the couple of months that come, that there will be room to look beyond generalists,” she said. “We really want somebody that’s going to be adept to change, excited for change — maybe even that has experience with change.”

Nelson Linder, President of the NAACP in Austin, speaks with KXAN investigator Avery Travis. (KXAN Photo/Avery Travis)

Nelson Linder, the President of the Austin chapter of the NAACP, told KXAN his organization had been in communication with Ralph Andersen & Associates, the consulting firm overseeing the search, since it began.

“This is probably the most important hire in Austin Police history because of the issues — previous and in the future,” he said. “It’s a very difficult process. They’ve got to get this right.”

He said they were looking for someone fair, transparent, and accountable. However, he also thinks the Chief needs experience handling use of force cases, de-escalation tactics and managing a department of a similar size.

While he said they hoped city officials would consider diversity and representation during the hiring process, Linder said they ultimately want whoever is the best person for the job.

Corby Jastrow, President of the Greater Austin Crime Commission emphasized the importance of good leadership in light of staffing challenges and a brand new cadet class starting training this week.

“Transparency and communication is key,” he said.

Their organization has worked with past police chiefs, and Jastrow said they hope to build a similar relationship with the future leader of the department. Their primary goal the past few months, however, has been getting the training academy reinstated.

The first cadet class in more than a year began drills this week.

“A graduation class will put more sworn officers in our patrol,” Jastrow said, concerned about response times and the loss of officers in specialized units. Those were issues, he said, the new chief will have to tackle.

During Monday’s Public Safety Commission meeting, the commission’s chair Rebecca Gonzales said she had spoken with the consultants and communicated many of the qualities the group felt were important in a leader. She also asked about the possibility of a civilian chief.

“But because of the rules set forth by the Texas legislature and the state of Texas, the candidate does have to have certain licensing,” Gonzales said.

Ultimately, the city manager will make the final decision, but according to Texas local government code, city council does have to approve the choice.

Arellano told the commission that people are still able to communicate their feedback or opinions about the position, even though the five public meetings held throughout May have concluded.

You can fill out the questionnaire on SpeakUp Austin: Your Next Chief of Police Recruitment Process or send an email to Community@AustinTexas.gov.

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