Reduce the use and type of weapons, technology, and equipment to minimize, and in some cases, prohibit the policies and practices that are considered deadly force.
This reform is defined by City Council Resolution 20200611-095.
The City Manager and the Office of Police Oversight (OPO) shall review the Austin Police Department (APD) general orders on weapons, equipment, technology, and enforcement policies and practices. This resolution also delays the July 2020 police cadet class.
Deliverables and Outcome
A public report, developed with community input in concert with the City Manager and Office of Police Oversight (OPO) that provides recommendations on less harmful or lethal alternatives to use of force, use of equipment, technology and weapons in encounters with the community.
As a part of the Reimagining Public Safety process, City Council directed the City Manager to direct OPO to facilitate a rewrite of the APD policy manual, known as the General Orders. The scope of the rewrite covers all policies, including search and seizure, body-worn cameras, dash cameras, mental health response, discipline, bias, language, and courtesy.
In January 2021, OPO accomplished a critical first step in the rewrite process by releasing a publication outlining policy change recommendations to six of APD’s use-of-force policies. This publication was written through the lens of Campaign Zero’s “8 Can’t Wait” initiative, which advocates for more restrictive policies to reduce use of deadly force by police. At the center of 8 Can’t Wait are the following recommendations:
- Restrict shooting at moving vehicles;
- Exhaust all alternatives before using deadly force;
- Require de-escalation;
- Impose a duty to intervene in cases of improper or excessive use of force;
- Require comprehensive reporting of uses of force;
- Ban chokeholds and strangleholds.
OPO’s report also outlined the phased approach it will use to facilitate the General Order rewrite process. The approach includes the following three phases:
- Phase I - Conduct a preliminary analysis of APD’s current policy language and make the analysis publicly available on the OPO website.
- Phase II - Work with community partners and stakeholders to gather public input on proposed changes to APD’s policies. Outreach will include events, surveys, and other community engagement methods.
- Phase III - OPO will submit policy recommendations and community feedback to APD. APD, in consultation with the City Manager’s Office, will review the recommendations and modify as appropriate prior to final incorporation. APD will subsequently bring the proposed modified General Orders to Council for feedback.
These elements of the reform resolution are considered complete, as of November 30.
- Delay July 2020 Cadet class
These elements of the reform resolution are considered in progress, as of November 30.
- Revise APD General Orders to conform with the resolution directives
- Recommend amendments to General Orders on how to better define “resistance” and alternative tactics and tools
- Report back to the City Council and relevant Council committees on proposed General Order amendments for feedback
- Revise APD General Orders to prohibit use of tear gas
These elements of the reform resolutions are pending, as of November 30. The reasons they are pending range from needed work with other divisions, need for legal review or policy development, need for community input and need for input from the City Council, the Council Public Safety Committee or the Public Safety Commission.
- Revise APD General Orders regarding use of force
- Revise APD General Orders regarding use of impact munitions
- Revise APD General Orders regarding use of bean bag rounds
- Revise APD General Orders regarding use of force incorporating de-escalation
- Revise APD General Orders regarding requiring officers to stop improper or excessive use of force
A formal policy change to APD's general orders about restricting the use of tear gas is being drafted and will be sent to Council for the awareness and input. If discussion is necessary, it will be placed on the November Public Safety Committee agenda.
- 2020 Cadet Classes are canceled, classes for 2021 are to be determined.
- The Police Chief has given direction to the department regarding restricting the use of tear gas. A formal policy change to the department’s general orders is being drafted.
- The OPO is researching best practices and terminology related to use of force, response to resistance, and alternative tactics.
Council adopted Resolution 20200611-095 on June 11, 2020.