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Tuesday, April 5, 2022 by Jo Clifton

Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon told members of the Public Safety Commission on Monday that his department had signed the 30-by-30 Pledge, a nationwide initiative that pledges to diversify the police force in Austin. ‘by 2030. The ODA is one of 40 law enforcement agencies that have signed the pledge. .

Overall, Chacon said, only 11% of current APD officers are women, but the department is working hard to recruit women as well as Hispanic, black and other minority officers. The final class of APD cadets are 17% female. Overall, he said, black cadets make up 10 percent of the cadet class, which is higher than their representation in the community, which is just 8 percent.

Recruiting more diverse cadet classes was one of the recommendations of the Kroll Report, an independent review of the department by consulting firm Kroll Associates.

Later in the meeting, Commissioner Rebecca Bernhardt presented figures showing an increase in Hispanic representation among police officers of 20 to 25 percent over the past eight years. The number of Hispanic employees in the Department of Emergency Medical Services has increased by about 4% over the same period, and Hispanic firefighters now make up 20% of AFD, up from 16% in 2014, a she declared.

She noted that while the changes seem small, they represent progress.

Chacon said he would like to engage the services of a consultant to help reconfigure the department’s fitness requirements so that those requirements don’t have what he called “a disparate impact on women and people in color”.

Chacon also spoke about a number of policy recommendations the department has implemented regarding the use of force. Wording has been added to departmental regulations to clarify that “the protection of life is the primary core value,” he said, adding that discharging a firearm should be a last resort after failure to fire. other options.

He said the policy regarding shooting at moving vehicles has been changed to reflect the fact that shooting at a vehicle is unlikely to stop its movement. And officers are now instructed to only use a chokehold when lethal force has been authorized. In addition, wording regarding what to do when an officer sees another officer using unreasonable force has been changed. There is now a directive telling officers that they have a duty to intervene if another officer uses unreasonable force (previous wording said a duty to intercede). He said the duty applies regardless of the rank of the officers involved.

Twenty cases of use of force were highlighted in the Kroll report. The department reviewed all of these elements and determined that the officers’ actions were reasonable, Chacon said. However, the department removed the use of force reviews from those who supervise the officers under investigation. Instead, a panel comprised of a member of the city’s legal team and a member of the Police Oversight Office as well as trained police investigators review these cases.

Chacon said when the cases were reviewed by officers in the chain of command, the results were inconsistent.

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