,  Black Austin Democrats View All Reponses >>

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?

Kathie Tovo

City Council, District 9

I support policies that hold police accountable for misconduct and help us foster greater trust through a community policing model – and I have voted to move us toward these goals.

During my time in office, I have supported measures that help us make progress on accountability, including voting to purchase body cameras for our officers and supporting the Citizens Review Panel and the Office of the Police Monitor. I have also supported measures to help the police engage with the community and try to improve relationships among community members and the police, including ending the juvenile curfew, voting

to hire a third party to produce a report recommending strategies to help the police department develop an effective community policing model, and supporting a stakeholder process to review the Austin Justice Coalition’s recommendations on community policing.

On the community policing report, the police department has implemented or is otherwise in the process of implementing almost all of the recommendations, including better aligning recruiting resources with community policing principles and expanding the information reported in the annual Racial Profiling Report. They have also instituted a number of other changes, such as a new de-escalation policy developed in collaboration with the Austin Justice Coalition.

These efforts are a positive start, but they are not enough to fix all of the problems we face. Going forward, I will continue to support community policing policies that are focused on serving the needs of the community, that help build up a foundation of trust and legitimacy, that better align the department’s work – from recruitment to training to patrol – with community policing values, and that support hiring a workforce which is reflective of our community’s diversity. Ultimately, community policing cannot just be a program within our department, it must be the core of the department’s mission.