Goal

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.

 

Direction

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.  

 

Status

Complete Actions

These elements of the reform resolution are considered complete, as of May 12. 

  1. Delay July 2020 Cadet class

 

In-Progress Actions

These elements of the reform resolution are considered in progress, as of May 12.

  1. Revise APD General Orders to conform with the resolution directives 
  2. Recommend amendments to General Orders on how to better define “resistance” and alternative tactics and tools
  3. Report back to the City Council and relevant Council committees on proposed General Order amendments for feedback
  4. Revise APD General Orders to prohibit use of tear gas

 

Pending Actions

These elements of the reform resolutions are pending, as of May 12. 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.

  1. Revise APD General Orders regarding use of force
  2. Revise APD General Orders regarding use of impact munitions
  3. Revise APD General Orders regarding use of bean bag rounds
  4. Revise APD General Orders regarding use of force incorporating de-escalation
  5. Revise APD General Orders regarding requiring officers to stop improper or excessive use of force

 

Timeline

MAY 2021

APD Training Academy Final Assessment Report Presented to City Council

The City Manager has delivered a final report detailing an in-depth assessment of the APD Training Academy to City Council. The report, authored by independent consultant Kroll and Associates, is expansion of a preliminary analysis released in March 2021. Findings and recommendations were presented at the May 4, 2021 City Council work session. Read the report.

April 2021

Renewed Commitment and Collaboration between Austin Police Department and Office of Police Oversight

On April 23 the Austin Police Department and the Office of Police Oversight (OPO), outlined a renewed commitment to improve the working relationship between the two departments and the steps each will take to facilitate a comprehensive and impartial review of complaints and policy recommendations. Read more.

Report: Redefining “Resistance” and Considering Alternative Tactics and Tools to Prevent the Need for Lethal and Less-Lethal Munitions

The Office of Police Oversight released the "Redefining Resistance and Considering Alternatives Report on April 15 in response to City Council Resolution 95. The report outlines research findings and recommendations for amendments to the Austin Police Department General Orders to better define what constitutes “resistance” and alternative tactics and tools that can be used by officers to prevent the need for lethal or less lethal munitions. Read the report.

January 2021

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:

  1. Restrict shooting at moving vehicles;
  2. Exhaust all alternatives before using deadly force;
  3. Require de-escalation;
  4. Impose a duty to intervene in cases of improper or excessive use of force;
  5. Require comprehensive reporting of uses of force;
  6. 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.

 

October 2020

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.  

 

September 2020

  • 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.

 

June 2020

Council adopted Resolution 20200611-095 on June 11, 2020.