We need to change the culture at APD, and that is happening. When I took office, the APD recruiting video showcased weapons and tactical gear. Now, it showcases officers working in the community and in schools. De-escalation training has increased, as has mental health training.
Second, we need better and more institutional oversight mechanisms. I’m working to that end with both the police association and the Austin Justice Coalition.
Third, we need more officers to do more community policing. Much of the work on the police contract that has not had to do with oversight has been focused on finding the financial resources to achieve that goal. But community policing should also involve community groups that can help de-escalate and better relate to the community.
Fourth, the lack of trust is a grave concern and we must repair the relationship between the police and the African American community. I’m committed to doing this work, to increase awareness (I’ve helped initiate race training to hundreds across the city), to bring together the community, and to heal the wounds that have been left open for too many years.