Andrew Romero out at Austin Police Association
APA vice president suspended 20 days from APD, resigns from union post
The Austin Police Association lost a key contract negotiator last Friday after Andrew Romero was punished for his behavior at the department's Distinguished Awards Gala in November. Romero, APA's vice president since 2015, was suspended for 20 days for consuming "around ten" alcoholic beverages at the event (held at ACL Live at the Moody Theater), swearing and shouting at staff and APA members, and making "unwarranted physical contact" with two people. Interim Chief Brian Manley also demoted Romero from sergeant to detective, relegation from a rank that could take two years to earn back. (A second officer, Gustavo Guzman, was suspended for 15 days for urinating outside of the venue.)
Shortly after the news went public, Romero texted Chronicle News Editor Chase Hoffberger: "My behavior last November was wrong. I immediately apologized to whom I offended and am grateful they have accepted my sincere apology. I accept full responsibility and the punishment that has been levied." That's in reference to the 20-day suspension and demotion, but the greater impact on the rank and file may be Romero's voluntary resignation from the APA, meaning he'll no longer serve on its executive board or bargaining team – a bargaining team that's currently at work with the city's Labor Relations Office working out the details of a new deal after City Council rejected the first proposed agreement in December.
The group should stay on track. The union infused its negotiating squad with new blood after the December breakdown, so it's equipped to handle Romero's departure. APA President Ken Casaday praised his old veep's efforts, but said ultimately "no one chief or one officer is bigger than the department or the association." The negotiating team will press on. "He will serve his suspension and come back as a detective and do a great job for the city. But no, this should not affect bargaining," Casaday said.