Frasier Named New Police Monitor

The former sheriff will start work on Jan. 18

Margo Frasier
Margo Frasier (by photo by John Anderson)

Conspicuously absent from the Wednesday afternoon press conference announcing the selection of the city's new police monitor was the city's new police monitor, Margo Frasier.

Where, exactly, Frasier was isn't clear and City Manager Marc Ott wasn't saying – "she is where she is; she's not here," he said, rather snippily.

Nonetheless, Ott said he was pleased to name Frasier to replace outgoing monitor Cliff Brown, who will be assuming a district court bench seat next week (he's been elected to replace retiring Judge Wilford Flowers). There's "no higher responsibility than maintaining the trust" of the community in its police department, and Frasier is uniquely qualified to take on that task, Ott said.

Indeed, Frasier was Travis County's first female sheriff (a position she held for seven years), is a lawyer, and has worked as an instructor at Sam Houston State University. During community meetings earlier this month, Frasier said that she's "spent the last 36 years of my life getting ready to hold this position." She said that, given her experience in law enforcement "evaluating police conduct," she has the skill set to oversee citizen complaints about Austin Police officers. (You can read more about what Frasier had to say about the job during the Dec. 7 community meeting here.) Ott apparently agrees: With her "wealth of experience" Frasier will bring a "perspective [to the job] that I think will serve the community quite well," he said.

Frasier was up against three other qualified candidates – lawyer Ann Del Llano, Atlanta police monitor Cristina Beamud, and Renita Sanders, who is currently one of two assistant police monitors. In fact, Ott said that Sanders will stay in the office and will be promoted to deputy monitor. (Before the pick became official, sources told News Desk that Ott had narrowed the field to two candidates – Sanders and Frasier – and that there was some heavy inside-City-Hall lobbying happening on behalf of each candidate.)

Not everyone seemed pleased with Ott's pick, including Nelson Linder, head of the Austin NAACP. His disappointment wasn't personal – Frasier is a fine candidate, he said – but is focused primarily on Frasier's background in law enforcement, which he says gives at least the appearance of imbalance. (Sanders would have been his pick, he said.) Picking Frasier for the job "smacks of politics" and is a "safe" political choice to head the office that handles citizen complaints against police. "There are too many law enforcement folks already in this equation," he said. Choosing a true civilian would've been preferable, to "balance it out and get back to [true] civilian oversight."

Frasier (whose salary will be about $140,000 per year, Ott said) will begin her new job Jan. 18.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

City Government, City Manager, Austin Police Department, Cops, Margo Frasier, Marc Ott, APD, police monitor, Nelson Linder, NAACP, civilian oversight

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