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AUSTIN (KXAN) — The City of Austin’s Office of the City Auditor conducted a special report in October on anonymous complaints of misconduct by police officers.

According to the city, the report answered questions from the Austin City Council — one of which was how Austin handled anonymous complaints submitted by its police officers.

The report showed Austin police officers had two possible options of submitting complaints against another officer if they know or suspect there has been a policy violation.

One method, which is standard APD policy, requires an APD officer to file complaints of misconduct through the department’s chain of command by completing an Internal Affairs Internal Complaint Memorandum, according to the city auditor. This method does not allow anonymity for the officer.

Another method, which is not a part of APD policy, would be for an officer to file a complaint externally through the Office of Police Oversight by using methods available to the public. This method could allow for the officer to remain anonymous.

“Complaints of officer misconduct may be initiated internally or externally. Internal complaints are complaints APD initiates. External complaints are complaints that originate from the Office of Police Oversight,” the city auditor said in its report.

How other cities handle anonymous complaints submitted by police officers

In addition to reviewing its own police department’s methods, the city auditor said it surveyed six other cities to understand how each manages its police officer complaint processes. The cities were Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Chicago, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and Seattle.

Chart showing surveyed cities in the city’s Anonymous Complaints special report
(Source: City of Austin’s Office of the City Auditor)

“We found most cities require police officers to report misconduct through their chain of command,” the city auditor said. “Two of the six cities surveyed do not allow police officers to submit anonymous complaints. All cities surveyed have an independent entity that accepts complaints through various methods.”

The city auditor said it found that there was a lack of information surrounding the benefits or impacts of implementing an anonymous process for police officers to submit complaints against other officers.