Austin Police Association Files Injunction Against Police Monitor
Union seeks to bar PM from IA investigations during impasse
Wednesday marked the start of a new round of meet-and-confer negotiations between the city and the Austin Police Association, and on Tuesday the APA and Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas announced they'd filed a lawsuit against the city to keep the Office of the Police Monitor from continuing to access personnel files while investigating new complaints. The unions say the APA's impasse with the city has rendered the OPM's role in new IA investigations unlawful, and filed an injunction to halt the OPM's continued efforts. APA President Ken Casaday said it was "unfortunate" the situation had come to this, but blamed City Council for not approving the contract the negotiating teams had spent the summer bargaining.
Acknowledging the lawsuit, a spokesperson said the city is prepared to defend its interpretation of state law. Elaine Hart, acting in her previous capacity as interim city manager last month, had shuttered the Citizen Review Panel, but said the OPM (now helmed by Farah Muscadin) could continue its work and stay within state law. "Our position ... has been consistent and we continue to strive to uphold the accountability of police actions to maintain and improve relations between law enforcement and the community," the city said. "We will continue to operate within the law and the Office of the Police Monitor will continue to carry out its important work."
The city said it was looking forward to returning to the bargaining table on Wednesday.