AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Wednesday, Austin’s Office of Police Oversight released a report on its performance and achievements during its first two years operating as a city department.
The OPO replaced Austin’s Office of the Police Monitor in 2018. It provides police oversight and takes complaints about officer misconduct, then recommends those that qualify for investigation.
The report covers 2019 and 2020. It listed several highlights:
- In 2019, the OPO received 1,353 contacts about interactions with Austin police officers.
- In 2020, the OPO received 2,809 contacts about interactions with Austin police officers.
- In 2019, 200 individual Austin Police Department officers were disciplined.
- In 2020, 159 individual APD officers were disciplined.
- Between 2019 and 2020, the number of APD officers disciplined decreased by 21%.
- In 2019 and 2020, the OPO published a report analyzing APD’s racial profiling data and a separate report examining APD’s officer-involved shooting incidents.
- In 2019, the OPO hosted community office hours in neighborhood libraries and recreational centers across 19 different locations in all 10 city council districts.
The report also examined the number of complaints filed through the OPO that got sent to APD for further investigation but were never investigated.
In 2020, the OPO received 2,809 contacts about potential complaints. 501 of those were sent to APD as formal complaints for investigation. Of those 501, 312 were about alleged officer misconduct during protests.
However, of the other 189 that were submitted for APD to investigate, only 96 were investigated. According to the report, 90 of those other non-protest-related complaints never were.
In 2019, of 53 formal complaints sent to APD for investigation, 20 of them were not investigated, according to the report.
“This is a point of contention,” OPO Director Farah Muscadin told KXAN, saying her office has expressed its concerns repeatedly to APD. “We’ve had several conversations about it, and I think it’s disrespectful to the community to not investigate the complaints.”
In response to the release of the OPO’s report, APD told KXAN in a statement:
“We are dedicated to accountability and transparency throughout the development and evaluation of departmental processes and procedures. While the safety of Austin remains our top priority, we take this matter very seriously. In April 2021, Interim Police Chief Joseph Chacon released a joint memo with OPO Director Farah Muscadin, renewing his commitment to working in collaboration with their department to facilitate comprehensive and impartial review of complaints and policy recommendations. We remain focused on community engagement and making improvements to our policies and processes by seeking the input of all stakeholders, including the OPO.”