Austin plays DPA’s chief dating game: finalists court community for best Austin police station – News

Chief ODA Candidates: (lr) Acting Chief ODA Joseph Chacon, Deputy Chief LAPD Emada Tingirides, Deputy Chief Dallas PD Avery Moore

The three finalists vying to be Austin’s next police chief each took turns last week to woo the community in back-to-back panel discussions on August 18-19.

Essentially public job interviews, the hybrid forums were held in person with limited capacity at the Palmer Events Center and were also streamed live online, although only in-person participants were given the opportunity to ask candidates – Austin Police Department Acting Chief Joseph Chacon, deputy head of the LAPD Emada Tingirides, and Dallas PD Deputy Head Avery moore – any question outside of those already pre-selected for the two-night event.

Given these circumstances, participating in the forums required some negotiation between personal health and safety and the inherent risk of attending an in-person event at the height of Austin’s most aggressive COVID wave to date. day – a risk that made Public engagement difficult and has been a point of frustration for some criminal justice advocates. Still, the candidates’ responses offered Austinites the most insight they are likely to have on how each would run APD.

Each has shown a degree of wisdom in the way they answered the forum’s questions – especially those that are politically sensitive – and in particular crafted answers that, on the face of it, might appeal to both criminal justice reformers and law enforcement supporters. They discussed how they would continue to “rethinking public safety“, a concept that city leaders use to describe local efforts to advance de-policeman Following municipal Council‘s vote last year to reallocate some $ 20 million from the ODA budget. The candidates also weighed in on other hot topics, including how to respond to the historic increase in homicides that has occurred over the past year in Austin and other major cities across the country; which role systemic racism has played in the history of policing and how the harmful effects of this legacy can be reversed; and what steps should be taken to slow ODA attrition rates.

So what’s the main takeaway here? It is that all three candidates offered answers that we would expect from career cops looking for the top job in a progressive city – that is, don’t expect any of the these potential future leaders alone completely revolutionize the department overnight.

Austin criminal justice advocates expressed similar sentiments, paying close attention to what Chacon, Tingirides and Moore had to say about the reimagining of public safety. Chris Harris spirith Apple from Texas said to the Chronicle that each seemed to fundamentally disregard the primary purpose of reimagination efforts (RPS), which is to limit the role law enforcement plays in the lives of Austin residents, and especially those living in black communities and Latinas who have historically suffered disproportionate damage from the police.

“All of these candidates are confusing reimagining public safety and reforming the police training academy,” Harris told us. “None seem to embrace the city council’s vision of rethinking who does what, let alone the task force’s goal of limiting dependence on the police by providing more community resources and services to people living in the city. historically oppressed areas. “

All three candidates offered answers we would expect from career cops looking for the top job in a progressive city – that is, don’t expect any of them. only revolutionized the department overnight.

None of the candidates have yet won the support of prominent justice groups like the Austin Justice Coalition Where Just freedom. The Austin Police Association has not issued a rider either; APA members were interviewed this week, but as the the Chronicle went to press on Wednesday, the results had yet to be released. This follows background investigations carried out on each candidate, which involve an APD detective spending a week in his spare time visiting Los Angeles and Dallas to research Tingirides and Moore, respectively. As a 20-year ODA veteran, Chacon is already a known entity among APA leaders and the grassroots.

For APA, the main concern is how the next boss will approach skyrocketing attrition rates. APA President Ken casaday said to the Chronicle that while Chacon, Tingirides and Moore all agreed that the personnel issues need to be addressed, none has so far presented a workable strategy to stop the bleeding. Speaking more generally about background checks, Casaday said the results of Tingirides’ investigation were “so impressive it’s scary. … Everyone we interviewed just thinks she’s the real deal.” .

Based on Casaday’s comments, then, it’s no surprise that Tingirides appears to be the least favored candidate among advocates for justice. Several advocates pointed to comments Tingirides made in forums last week that echoed APA rhetoric, such as linking the council’s decision to cut police spending last year to the recent increase in police spending. murders and the decisions of DPA agents to leave the department. “I think the increase in violence associated with the decrease in police resources is quite volatile,” she said at the August 19 forum. “It is difficult for law enforcement to recruit everywhere due to a narrative that has taken place over the past year, regarding law enforcement and policing.”

Among justice advocates, however, the consensus that Moore is the candidate least likely to hinder reform efforts appears to be gathering. Moore has experience as an executive in a large city police department and has offered the most comprehensive answer on what the RPS effort means. “We have to look at everything we do with the police in terms of training,” he said at the August 19 forum. “We must also go to where we are examining our general orders, our [standard operating procedures], and just make sure we’re following best practices. “

Chacon’s status as the only ODA veteran to hold the post of chief initially appeared to be an automatic disqualification for two reasons. On the one hand, there is a belief among advocates that the cultural problems in ODA are so plentiful that an internal hire – especially someone who has spent most of his or her career in the department – would be unable to disrupt the status quo of ODA. The other reason is that state law prevents city directors from firing public security chiefs promoted from within – they cannot be demoted.

But Chacon has impressed so far as an interim leader, and hiring someone with experience leading the RPS effort from within could also be a plus. However, the recent controversy surrounding Chacon’s response to a news arrest review policy implemented by the public prosecutor Jose garza and county attorney Delia Garza frustrated some activists. Addressing the tensions between the DPA and the two prosecutors, Chacon said on August 15 that he was in “ongoing and ongoing” talks on the policy to reduce arrests for low-intensity, non-violent offenses. “We have to build these systems.… We cannot go into an area where we disagree. We have to keep working together and commit to continuing to have these conversations.”

City manager Spencer cronk is expected to nominate a single finalist for Board approval before the end of September.

View archived recordings from the ODA Chief Applicant Forums at

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