The Austin Justice Coalition issued the following policy recommendations shortly before budget discussions began at City Council late this summer. Any changes to most existing APD policies would require a change in law at the state or local levels, or acceptance from the Austin Police Association through its meet-and-confer agreement.
Priority 1: Modernize APD's policy manual
• Sanctity of all life should clearly guide APD's use of force.
• Response should be proportionate to situation.
• De-escalation first!
• APD can and should hold officers to a higher standard than the floor set by Graham v. Connor.
• Clearly require officers to promptly render first aid and immediately call for medical assistance if a person is or might be injured as a result of police action.
• Stop classifying certain symptoms as "excited delirium" unless the diagnosis is recognized as a genuine health condition by the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
• Improve force reporting/data.
• Update the disciplinary matrix.
• Update officer training based on revised policies prioritizing de-escalation, concepts of proportionality, and culturally competent communications based on training protocols shown to reduce use of force.
Priority 2: Public participation in meet-and-confer negotiations
• Ensure that the chief can discipline officers even if he learns about an incident more than 180 days after it occurred. Apply the "180 day" rule from the date the chief learns of a problem rather than the incident date.
• Give the Office of the Police Monitor prompt and complete access upon request to all evidence related to any arrest, detention, or use-of-force incident, including DMAV, body camera video, and witness statements.
• Change the point system used for promotions to include deductions for misconduct.
• Eliminate the authority of arbitrators or hearing examiners to overturn suspensions or other discipline if they find the underlying facts to be true.
• Improve the complaint process: Allow people to file complaints by phone or online; allow the OPM to see all evidence before requiring a complainant to file a sworn statement.