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Although Austin has remained a relatively safe city, there have been far too many shootings of African American men. What kind of changes would you institute at APD to reduce the number of officer-involved shootings and reduce the degree of mistrust that exists between the African American community and the police?

Danielle Skidmore

City Council, District 9

It is important to also recognize some uncomfortable truths, and the first step to addressing them is to admit them point blank. Here in Austin, we are a community in which the police department has allowed and perpetrated harsh and violent physical interactions toward the people they are meant to keep safe, no one is able to feel secure—least of which, communities of color who disproportionately receive said treatment. Diminishing police violence and increasing police accountability must be a priority for all elected officials in our city, and across our country. I believe that in order to increase police accountability, we must expand the independent Police Monitor program in our city. We need to put more effort into growing this program in order to make the concerns and fears of our constituents heard and addressed. It is imperative that we maintain the contract allowing the Police Monitor Program access to confidential documents in pending internal investigations to ensure transparency in the police department and our city. This program is an efficient way to hear our citizens’ concerns about APD, and it allows the City Council to address these issues and set city policy to guarantee change for the long haul.

As public safety is the largest portion of our city’s budget, it is the logical place to look for ways to improve our city’s economic sustainability. I value very much the efforts of our police, fire and EMS to keep us safe; I also think policing is not the only determinant of public safety, and certain initiatives—such as Austin Transportation Department’s Vision Zero, increasing lighting in parks and spaces for public recreation, and improving mental health services—can substitute aspects of policing in a more cost efficient manner.