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Police union revisits city’s proposal to expand civilian oversight as clock ticks down

Monday November 14, 2022 by Emma Freer

The Austin Police Association will later this month reply to town’s repeated requires civilian oversight of the police division to be faraway from the employment contract. In return, the union has requested town to rethink a few of its earlier requests, together with these associated to promotions, trip time and sick pay.

APA President Thomas Villarreal mentioned throughout a Friday negotiation session that tying up these free ends “could help us get where we need to be to ultimately close a deal.”

Since March, town has been constructing its case for eradicating the Office of Police Oversight from the contract, so it should now not be negotiated, and increasing its powers, together with the power to take part extra absolutely in investigations into officer misconduct.

Lowell Denton, an out of doors legal professional for town, mentioned final month That final piece is one among City Manager Spencer Cronk’s high priorities.

“A significant and important segment of the people in this community do not trust the police to monitor the police,” he mentioned at a negotiation session in late October. “That’s what we’re trying to address.”

But the APA has resisted these concepts, saying they deviate from the oversight mannequin that has existed for years.

“They don’t have an investigative model,” Ron DeLord, an APA legal professional, mentioned earlier this month. “There is no inspector general.”

The APA has additionally had success limiting OPO’s powers below the present contract. In 2020, the union filed a grievance alleging that OPO breached the contract by investigating complaints of wrongdoing. The following 12 months, an arbitrator discovered that OPO had “unlawfully investigated complaints against police officers” and “ordered (the office) to cease doing so”. That Austin Chronicle reported January.

“By the referee’s decision, this is a reasonably tough task for both of our team members and it’s… quite a significant change from how we’ve done it in the past,” Villarreal mentioned on Friday.

Despite these considerations, the union signaled a renewed openness to town’s proposal — or no less than a compromise that might permit the 2 negotiating groups to attain an settlement by March, when the present deal expires.

“We’re working towards that,” mentioned Villarreal. “We don’t just reject your ideas and suggestions.”

The APA dedicated to an extra negotiation session on November 30, the place it should current a brand new oversight proposal. The metropolis, in flip, mentioned it should rethink a few of the APA’s earlier calls for, together with these it rejected earlier within the negotiation course of.

Denton additionally expressed hope that the police union would “vigilantly examine” town’s different oversight mannequin, which he says would assist cops, Austin residents and metropolis council members get out of the contentious arbitration course of.

“We propose a professional, responsible and competent alternative under the control of the city manager,” he mentioned.

Although negotiating groups seem to be nearing a détente on oversight, they continue to be at odds on pay and have but to agree a timeline for revisiting the problem.

The APA has rejected town’s supply of a ten % improve over 4 years; In response, town urged the union to counteract this, recognizing that rising inflation impacts each side.

“We’re not going to negotiate by making another proposal,” Denton mentioned.

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