Naked City

Iris Jones Goes Public

Last week ACLU attorney Ann del Llano and Austin Police Association President Mike Sheffield made strange bedfellows as they shared concerns that Police Monitor Iris Jones is violating the city's contract with the police union by not posting the meetings of her citizen review panel. This week Jones is irked by their assertion and says her office is doing its best to comply with the contract -- which created Austin's police oversight process -- and keep the office's dealings in the public purview. "There is nothing we intend to do, or desire to do, in private," she said.

The police contract describes Jones' citizen review panel as "purely advisory" and not subject to Open Meetings Act provisions -- but goes on to say the panel "shall accept input from the public on any case presented to it," in meetings that "shall be open to the public." Both del Llano and Sheffield say Jones has conducted several panel meetings without any public input, which they say conflicts with both the language and the spirit of the contract. Jones disagrees, saying the panel has only had one case "presented to it" as defined by the contract -- its October 2002 review of the Sophia King shooting, which featured a smattering of public input.

Since then, she said, the panel has met only to discuss cases at the request of the citizens bringing complaints, not to review cases (such as King's) brought to it by Jones herself. It is a small, yet distinct, difference, she says, designed to maintain the privacy of certain records, most notably Internal Affairs files and the names of both complainants and any aggrieved officers. But just to be sure, Jones is seeking clarification of the meeting provisions from city legal staff.

Meanwhile, Jones, Sheffield, and del Llano all appear to agree on one thing -- that the oversight provisions in the current "meet and confer" contract need to be revised when the pact, which expires in September, is renegotiated. "Obviously there are some things in that contract that need, very much, to be clarified," said Sheffield, "to give a clear indication of what people should be doing."

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More by Jordan Smith
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
Motoreum's Yusuf & Antonio talk about the biz and their reality TV debut

May 22, 2014

APD Brass Shifts Up, Down, Across
APD Brass Shifts Up, Down, Across
Musical chairs at Downtown HQ

May 9, 2014

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle