New Police Contract Would Allow Public Release of Citizen Review Panel Documents

Officers must vote to approve new four-year contract

New Police Contract Would Allow Public Release of Citizen Review Panel Documents

Among proposed changes to the employment contract between the city and the Austin Police Association is a concession that would allow the city to release publicly all disciplinary recommendations made by the Citizen Review Panel in critical incidents regardless of whether the chief actually metes out punishment.

Currently, all recommendations made by the CRP are confidential unless discipline is imposed by the chief. But according to an email sent to APA members by union President Wayne Vincent, the concession may not be as dramatic as it sounds. "This change is not too hard to swallow when you consider that all confidential recommendations in the past have been leaked anyway," he wrote.

Indeed, CRP recommendations that Officer Nathan Wagner be fired for the 2011 killing of Byron Carter was leaked to us last month. In 2009, after the shooting of Nathaniel Sanders, the un-redacted results of a CRP-requested independent investigation into the shooting were also leaked.

The new contract would also beef up training for CRP members – including a requirement that each member accompany officers on a night-shift walking beat – and increases to eight hours the amount of time that each panelist has to review Internal Affairs investigative files generated in critical incidents, including otherwise confidential information.

Another new provision would allow the department to hire retired officers in good standing to work during specific special events – Mardi Gras, SXSW, Texas Relays, Halloween, and over the Formula One race weekend.

Among the other items included in the proposed four-year contract are a 5.5% pay raise over the life of the contract (1.5% the first year followed by two consecutive years of a 1% raise capped off by a 2% raise in the fourth year); a specific protection against discrimination by the city against officers who go to the union for help with a problem; adding Farsi and Arabic to the list of bilingual languages for which there is an additional stipend; and a provision to allow officers facing possible discipline a chance to review, prior to a Disciplinary Review Hearing, the investigative summary of their case, and the opportunity to decline to go before a DRH at all.

The new contract would expire Sept. 30, 2017.

Union members will vote on whether to approve the contract. Voting ends at 8am on June 24.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Criminal Justice, APD, cops, policing, Austin Police Association, Citizen Review Panel, reserve officers, special events, Disciplinary Review Hearing, Internal Affairs, police shooting, Austin Police Department

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