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12-03-2016: Fired APD Officer Freeman settles with the city for $35,000
11-23-2016: Dallas Stares Down a Texas-Size Threat of Bankruptcy
11-23-2016: Millions of Retiring Boomer Public Workers Mean Higher Taxes For Millennials
11-17-2016: Art Acevedo to be named Houston Police Chief
10-24-2016: The Myth of the Racist Cop
10-23-2016: Houston officials move toward landmark pension reform
10-23-2016: California Supreme Court Set to Slash Public Pension Benefits
09-15-2016: Texas GOP lawmakers aiming to ban payroll deductions for union dues
09-15-2016: Chili’s hosts fundraiser for family of fallen Austin police officer
09-15-2016: Burglary suspect dies after police shooting in southwest Austin
09-03-2016: Chief Acevedo: Motorcycle officer ‘showing some positive signs’
09-02-2016: Doctors closely monitoring injured Austin motorcycle officer
07-13-2016: The Austin Police Department is monitoring a specific threat made against its officers for Wednesday, July 13.
07-11-2016: Austin police moves to 100 percent staffing in response to Dallas
07-11-2016: APD increases staffing, says violent crimes on the rise
07-11-2016: Austin police to help Cleveland with security at GOP convention
07-01-2016: APD sergeant awarded Badge of Bravery for stopping downtown shooter
06-10-2016: Austin police union members give Chief Acevedo bad reviews
05-31-2016: Wisconsin Officer Shot After Gun Taken Away
04-01-2016: Austin police honored at the 2016 Distinguished Awards Gala
03-31-2016: APD officer cleared in man’s death
03-30-2016: APD detectives to patrol, making up for officer shortage
03-23-2016: Crimewatch: APD officers dealing with on-the-job injuries
03-22-2016: APD fires officer who shot, killed David Joseph
02-29-2016: Mass shootings may have prompted departures from Colorado Springs Police Department
02-25-2016: Sixth Street Showdown
02-16-2016: APA: Police staffing, training factors in fatal shooting of teen
02-11-2016: APD & Black Lives Matter press conference
02-11-2016: Police union president defends use of deadly force
02-10-2016: Austin Police Association answers criticisms in David Joseph shooting
02-10-2016: Court rejects Brandon Daniel appeal in killing of police officer
02-10-2016: Dallas police chief faults staffing shortage for decline in specialized units, violent crime increase
12-27-2015: 2015 in Review: Celebrating 6 police heroes who saved lives
12-03-2015: Austin Police Association says ARCH should be moved from downtown
 
 
 
 

12-03-2016: Fired APD Officer Freeman settles with the city for $35,000
KXAN Staff
Published: December 2, 2016, 1:41 pm Updated: December 2, 2016, 10:40 pm

http://kxan.com/2016/12/02/fired-apd-officer-freeman-settles-with-the-city-for-35000/

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A former Austin police officer fired for his handling of the fatal shooting of an unarmed and naked teenager has received a settlement from the city of Austin.

Geoffrey Freeman will receive a $35,000 payment from the city in exchange for the agreement to not file further claims. He will also never work for the Austin Police Department again.

“The department is aware that Geoffrey Freeman and the city of Austin have come to an agreement to settle the arbitration and the Austin Police Department respects this decision,” Interim Police Chief Brian Manley said. “APD continues its commitment to uphold the highest standards for its officers.”

Freeman shot and killed 17-year-old David Joseph in February. He was originally called to an apartment complex in the 300 block of East Yager Lane on Feb. 8 for a report of a man chasing another man around the complex. Spotting the teen in the street, Freeman exited his patrol car and drew his gun. After giving him commands to stop, Freeman fired two shots at Joseph who was running towards him. The incident occurred out of view of the officer’s dash cam video, but you can still hear the audio and see Joseph in the street moments before he was killed.

A grand jury said Freeman’s actions in the shooting were justified and did not charge him in the deadly shooting.

Freeman’s attorney Grant Goodwin says because Freeman did not admit guilt, he can still be a police officer elsewhere. “This is best for all parties involved. For the Freeman family, the Joseph family, the city of Austin and the Austin police department,” said Goodwin.

Freeman was scheduled for an arbitration hearing this upcoming Monday and was hoping to get his job back. Sources tell KXAN News the settlement may not have happened had the mayor not cited the shooting as an example during his news conference on the creation of a task force to address institutional racism across the city

(video) http://kxan.com/2016/05/05/decision-expected-for-former-officer-who-shot-killed-david-joseph/

“The mayor made a big mistake. He stepped in and violated [Freeman’s] due process rights, and we immediately subpoenaed the mayor of Austin. That’s what changed. That’s what made all the difference,” said Charley Wilkison, the executive director of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, or CLEAT. “It’s such a narrow window for officers across the state to find justice, and so, the elected officials — it’s their job to stay out of that process. So, you never see the mayor step in where someone’s been accused of a crime. He would never step in on either side. He would never be so bold as to create a commission and give an example of a pending case.”

Wilkison said it was the first subpoena the organization has issued for the mayor of a city. Doing so, he said, has new ramifications for cases across the state of Texas.

“We seized on the mistake he [Adler] made,” added Wilkison. “He had this joyous, big moment where he got to be the hero and he was going to fix racism, and so, he mentioned Geoffrey Freeman and we jumped on it.”

CLEAT, as well as the Austin Police Association maintain that Freeman’s actions were justified and in line with training he’d received from the police academy.

“[Freeman] was within the right. How he was trained. He didn’t see any options for himself that day, and so, this is as close to justice as we can get out of a terrible situation,” said Wilkison.

“The Austin Police Academy told Chief Acevedo that [Freeman] followed the training that we gave them and once we found that out, we’ve backed Officer Freeman 100 percent,” said Ken Casaday, the president of the APA. “Chief took the easy way out. Instead of having to explain to the community that his police academy trained Officer Freeman to do what he did, he took the easy way out.”

Council Member Ora Houston issued a statement stating the city was hoping “the arbitrator to find in favor of the city of Austin, uphold Chief Acevedo’s decision to indefinitely suspend Geoffrey Freeman, and for Mr. Freeman not to return to the Department in any capacity as a police officer for the city of Austin. The settlement achieves those goals and provides finality to at least one part of a very unfortunate, difficult and sad situation.”

Mayor Adler released this statement Friday, responding to the settlement:

Nothing we do now will bring David Joseph back to his parents, family or community. We need to learn from what happened so we can avoid similar incidents in the future, and this settlement helps move us forward as a city.”
The executive director of CLEAT also said he believes the city of Austin did not want the mayor to testify, and the mayor did not wish to testify in Monday’s scheduled arbitration hearing, so the city offered Freeman the settlement on Friday. Representatives of Adler’s office deny those claims, saying Adler was “excited to testify” and city lawyers had to talk him out of it.

A wrongful death lawsuit filed by Joseph’s family against Freeman and the city of Austin is still going through the legal system. The suit claims the city has not trained officers on using other methods that are not deadly force, they have not addressed an under-staffing issue and the police are discriminating against minorities.

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11-23-2016: Dallas Stares Down a Texas-Size Threat of Bankruptcy
By MARY WILLIAMS WALSHNOV. 20, 2016

DALLAS — Picture the next major American city to go bankrupt. What springs to mind? Probably not the swagger and sprawl of Dallas.

But there was Dallas’s mayor, Michael S. Rawlings, testifying this month to a state oversight board that his city appeared to be “walking into the fan blades” of municipal bankruptcy.

“It is horribly ironic,” he said.

Indeed. Dallas has the fastest economic growth of the nation’s 13 largest cities. Its streets hum with supersize cars and its skyline bristles with cranes. Its mayor is a former chief executive of Pizza Hut. Hundreds of multinational corporations have chosen Dallas for their headquarters, most recently Jacobs Engineering, which is moving to low-tax Texas from pricey Pasadena, Calif.

But under its glittering surface, Dallas has a problem that could bring it to its knees, and that could be an early test of America’s postelection commitment to safe streets and tax relief: The city’s pension fund for its police officers and firefighters is near collapse and seeking an immense bailout.

Over six recent weeks, panicked Dallas retirees have pulled $220 million out of the fund. What set off the run was a recommendation in July that the retirees no longer be allowed to take out big blocks of money. Even before that, though, there were reports that the fund’s investments — some placed in highly risky and speculative ventures — were worth less than previously stated.

What is happening in Dallas is an extreme example of what’s happening in many other places around the country. Elected officials promised workers solid pensions years ago, on the basis of wishful thinking rather than realistic expectations. Dallas’s troubles have become more urgent because its plan rules let some retirees take big withdrawals.

Now, the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System has asked the city for a one-time infusion of $1.1 billion, an amount roughly equal to Dallas's entire general fund budget but not even close to what the pension fund needs to be fully funded. Nothing would be left for fighting endemic poverty south of the Trinity River, for public libraries, or for giving current police officers and firefighters a raise.

“It’s a ridiculous request,” Mr. Rawlings, a Democrat, said in testimony this month to the Texas Pension Review Board, whose seven members are appointed by Texas governors, all Republicans for the last 20 years.

The mayor — who defeated a former Dallas police chief to win his office in 2011 — added that he had nothing but respect for the city’s uniformed safety workers, five of whom were gunned down by a deranged sniper during a protest against police shootings in July.

But that does not change the awful numbers. This month, Moody’s reported that Dallas was struggling with more pension debt, relative to its resources, than any major American city except Chicago.

“The City of Dallas has no way to pay this,” said Lee Kleinman, a City Council member who served as a pension trustee from 2013 until this year. “If the city had to pay the whole thing, we would declare bankruptcy.”

Other ideas being considered include raising property taxes, borrowing money for the pension fund, delaying long-awaited public works or even taking back money from retirees. But property taxes in Dallas are already capped, the city’s borrowing capacity is limited, and retirees would surely litigate any clawback.

This month, the city’s more than 10,000 current and retired safety workers started voting on voluntary pension trims, but then five people sued, halting the balloting for now.

The city is expected to call for an overhaul in December. But it has no power to make the changes, because the fund is controlled by state lawmakers in Austin. The Texas Legislature convenes only every other year, and Dallas is preparing to ask the state for help when the next session starts in January.

One state senator, John Whitmire, stopped by the pension building this month and urged the 12 trustees to join the city in asking Austin to scale back their plan.

“It’s not going to be pleasant,” said Senator Whitmire, a Democrat in the statehouse since 1973. But without some cuts, “this whole thing will come crashing down, and we’ll play right into the hands of those who would like 401(k)s or defined contribution plans.”

To many in Dallas, the hole in the pension fund seems to have blown open overnight. But in fact, the fuse was lit back in 1993, when state lawmakers sweetened police and firefighter pensions beyond the wildest dreams of the typical Dallas resident. They added individual savings accounts, paying 8.5 percent interest per year, when workers reached the normal retirement age, then 50. The goal was to keep seasoned veterans on the force longer.

Guaranteed 8.5 percent interest, on tap indefinitely for thousands of people, would of course cost a fortune. But state lawmakers made it look “cost neutral,” records show, by fixing Dallas's annual pension contributions at 36 percent of the police and firefighters’ payroll. It would all work as long as the payroll grew by 5 percent every year — which it did not — and if the pension fund earned 9 percent annually on its investments.

Buck Consultants, the plan’s actuarial firm, warned that those assumptions were shaky, and that the changes did not comply with the rules of the state Pension Review Board.

“The Legislature clearly ignored that,” Mr. Kleinman said. The plan’s current actuary, Segal Consulting, reported in July that 23 years of unmet goals had left Dallas with a hidden pension debt of almost $7 billion.

Back in Dallas, the pension trustees set about trying to capture the 9 percent annual investment returns. They opted for splashy and exotic land deals — villas in Hawaii, a luxury resort in Napa County, Calif., timberland in Uruguay and farmland in Australia, among others.

The projects called for frequent on-site inspections by the trustees and their plan administrator, Richard Tettamant. The Dallas Morning News reported that officials were spending millions on global investment tours, with stop-offs in places like Zurich and Pisa, Italy. Pension officials argued that their travel was appropriate and their investments were successes.

It was an investment right in Dallas that led to the pension fund’s undoing: Museum Tower, a luxury condominium high rise. It went up across the street from the Nasher Sculpture Center, a collection housed in a Renzo Piano building surrounded by manicured gardens. The Nasher, opened in 2003, was integral to a city campaign to revitalize its downtown.

Museum Tower started out modestly, with a $20 million investment from the pension fund. But as the downtown Arts District flourished, the pension fund raised its stake, then doubled the height of the building, and finally took over the whole development for $200 million. Mr. Tettamant became the general manager.

As Museum Tower soared to 42 stories, its glass cladding acted as a huge reflector, sending the sun’s intensified rays down into the sculpture center. Mr. Piano had installed a filtered glass roof, designed to bathe the masterpieces in soft, natural light. The glare from the tower ruined the effect, killed plants in the garden and threatened to damage the sculptures. The center called on the pension fund to reduce the glare. Mr. Tettamant said nothing could be done and suggested the center change its roof.

Mr. Rawlings, the mayor, brought in a former official of the George W. Bush administration, Tom Luce, for confidential mediation. But Mr. Luce resigned after five months, saying Mr. Tettamant had failed to adhere to “the conditions and spirit under which I agreed to serve.”

Before long, The Dallas Morning News published a long exposé of the fund’s real-estate holdings, raising serious questions about its claimed investment success. Some retirees began to clamor for a criminal investigation. The mayor demanded a full audit.

When the audit was done, it showed that the investments were indeed overvalued, and that the fund was in deep trouble.

Mr. Tettamant, who was dismissed in 2014, said he believed he was being blamed for problems he did not cause.

“The Dallas mayor has a vendetta against me,” he said in an interview. “I never made any real estate investments. The board made all the investment decisions, and I was not a board member.”

In April, the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided the offices of CDK Realty Advisors, a firm that helped the pension fund identify and manage many of its investment properties. A spokesman for CDK declined to discuss the raid, but said the firm was working to resolve its differences with the pension fund.

In his meeting with the trustees, Senator Whitmire recalled that in 1993 he had voted enthusiastically for the plan that sent the pension fund on its ill-fated quest for 9 percent investment returns.

“We all know some of the benefits, guaranteed, were just probably never realistic,” he said. “It was good while it lasted, but we’ve got some serious financial problems because of it.”

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11-23-2016: Millions of Retiring Boomer Public Workers Mean Higher Taxes For Millennials

MARK TAPSCOTT

http://dailycaller.com/2016/11/21/rude-pension-shock-ahead-for-millions-of-retiring-boomer-public-workers/

More than half of the nation’s 25 most generous state and local public pension systems received Ds when graded by the non-profit government watchdog Truth In Accounting (TIA) on their ability to pay promised benefits to a rising flood of Baby Boomer retirees.

That’s very bad news for millennials because unfunded pension benefits often mean higher taxes for productive workers. Millennials who are now moving up career ladders and earning higher incomes make up the biggest portion of the taxable workforce now and will represent 75 percent of it by 2030 when the tailend of the Boomer generation is entering retirement.

California’s State Teachers Retirement System offers the most generous benefits among the top 25 with a total current obligation of $259.1 billion, but TIA gave the program a D+ because it’s assets are $67.3 billion short of being able to make good on all of its promises. That means retiring participants in the system could get only 74 cents on every dollar in promised benefits.

The Texas Teacher Retirement System is the second largest of the top 25 most generous and it got a D+ because its $128.5 billion in assets can only cover 78 percent of the $163.9 billion it has promised in benefits.

Similarly, the California Public Employees Retirement System – Group A is the third largest of the top 25 and received a D+ because it has promised $151.5 billion in benefits but only has $112.1 billion in assets, or 74 percent of what participants have been told to expect.

Others in the top 25 getting Ds include the Illinois Teachers Retirement System, Ohio State Teachers Retirement System, Pennsylvania Public School Employee Retirement System, Virginia Retirement System, New Jersey Public Employees Retirement System and the New York City Employees Retirement System.

Also, the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System, Maryland State Retirement and Pension System, Teachers Retirement System of the City of New York, Arizona State Retirement System, New Jersey Police and Firemen Retirement System, Nevada Public Employees Retirement System and the Massachusetts Teachers Retirement System.

With the exceptions of Texas, Virginia and Arizona, all of these tottering government pension systems are in traditionally liberal deep-blue states with the strong public employee unions. Worries about economics, however, were key in Republican President-Elect Donald Trump carrying Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio.

An estimated 10,000 new Baby Boomer retirees begin drawing benefits every day, a trend that will continue for many years. Millions of these new retirees are leaving jobs with state governments, local school systems and municipal police and fire workforces.

Most of the pension systems in the top 25 most generous already have hundreds of thousands of participants drawing benefits. The Texas system, for example, currently has more than 233,000 participants and dependents and its numbers will swell in the near future.

Booming pension benefit obligations can become major factors in municipal bankruptcies. Detroit officials, for example, faced stiff opposition in 2015 from local public employees when the city had to make major spending cuts, including across the board 6.7 percent reductions in benefits for current retirees.

Even with reduced benefits for current and future retirees, however, state and local taxpayers are in many jurisdictions legally obligated to make up the difference between assets and promised benefits, which can result in steeply higher levies.

A total of 304 state and local public pension systems were graded by the Chicago-based TIA, with 69, or 23 percent, receiving A+ or A grades. Twenty-four of the systems received B grades from TIA and 46 got C grades.

The nation’s healthiest state or local public employee pension system measured by the percentage of its promised benefits are fully funded is North Carolina’s Register of Deeds program, which is 197 percent funded. Forty six of the systems graded by TIA were 100 percent funded or more.

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10-24-2016: Art Acevedo to be named Houston Police Chief
By Claire Ricke
Published: November 17, 2016, 7:08 am Updated: November 17, 2016, 12:46 pm

http://kxan.com/2016/11/17/art-acevedo-accepts-new-job-as-houston-police-chief/

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Police Chief Art Acevedo’s decade at the helm of the city’s largest municipal department is nearing an end now that sources confirm he has accepted a new job as Houston’s Police Chief.

Ever since Acevedo took over the reins of the Austin Police Department in 2007, he has not shied away from the public face of the role—the positive and not so positive. Acevedo often lent a hand and APD’s name to various charity groups and non-profits. He is also known for not being afraid to get his hands dirty in the field, making arrests on occasion.

Politically, he has been an outspoken critic of policies to deport people in the US illegally and testified against a Texas law allowing guns to be carried on college campuses.

Twice Acevedo faced disciplinary action from his boss, the city manager. One time came in 2011 and again 2016 when he was reprimanded and docked pay for speaking to cadets about an ongoing investigation into the officer-involved shooting of an unarmed youth after the city manager told him not to.

Also this year, Acevedo announced the closure of the city police crime lab after it became known workers were using dated investigative techniques, throwing into question the integrity of some cases.

Acevedo also caught flak after controversial arrests his officers made like one this year involving a woman thrown to the ground. And flak from the union decrying Acevedo’s leadership style.

Reactions to the Chief’s departure

 

City leaders react to Acevedo’s departure

In an interview with the Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday he said the news did not come as a surprise.

“Chief Acevedo has been looking for two or three years now to move on,” said Casaday. “We’re very happy for him and his family and this is a huge opportunity for Chief Acevedo to further his career.”

Austin Mayor Steve Adler has reacted to the report that Acevedo is leaving with the following statement:

“Houston is getting a world-class police chief. Chief Acevedo has made our community safer and closer, and he is trusted and much loved by so many. Austin is losing a moral and joyous leader, and I’m losing a friend.

Losing Art Acevedo is a huge deal, and replacing him will be a daunting task in part because he gave so much of himself to his job and his community. But Austin is a safe city with a strong police force, and we’ll have talented applicants to take his place. We’ll shortly have a new city manager and a new police chief, and this gives Austin a unique opportunity to enter a new era in our history.”
Rumor mill

Given such a stream of public commentary mixed with his large, public personality, rumors of Acevedo’s looming departure circulated from time to time. In April 2014, the bilingual, career lawman with family ties to Cuba, Acevedo interviewed for a position with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement before withdrawing his name from the candidacy. Acevedo was also one of six candidates for the police chief position in Dallas in 2010.

In 2015, Acevedo was considered for chief in the City of San Antonio. He chose to remain in Austin after then City Manager Marc Ott agreed to give him a 5 percent raise, boosting Acevedo’s annual salary to $216,000.

In November 2016, rumors began to swirl again he was a shoo-in for the vacant Houston chief job. Now, Acevedo leaves behind a legacy of community-driven policing efforts including efforts to put body cameras on all patrol officers and increase the racial diversity of the department.

The start date of Acevedo’s new position has not been announced. We will update the story with the hunt for the new Austin police chief as soon as we get that information.

Houston’s Mayor will make the announcement at 2 p.m. on Thursday.

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10-24-2016: Four studies out this year show that if police are biased, it’s in favor of blacks.
By
Heather Mac Donald
Oct. 23, 2016 6:17 p.m. ET Wall Street Journal
158 COMMENTS
FBI Director James Comey has again defied the official White House line on policing and the Black Lives Matter movement. The “narrative that policing is biased and violent and unfair” is resulting in “more dead young black men,” Mr. Comey warned in an Oct. 16 address to the International Association of Chiefs of Police in San Diego. That narrative, he added, also “threatens the future of policing.”

Mr. Comey has spoken out before. In October 2015, after he observed that rising violent crime was likely the result of officers backing off proactive policing, President Obama obliquely accused the FBI director of “cherry-pick[ing] data” and “feed[ing] political agendas.”
But as much as Mr. Obama has tried to dismiss the violent crime increase that began after the 2014 fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., the data are clear.

Last year’s 12% increase in homicides reported to the FBI is the largest one-year homicide increase in nearly half a century. The primary victims have been black. An additional 900 black males were killed last year compared with the previous year, resulting in a homicide victimization rate that is now nine times greater for black males than for white males, according to a Guardian study. The brutality of these killings can be shocking. Over the weekend of Sept. 16, a 15-year-old boy in Chicago was burned alive in a dumpster.

More police are being killed this year too. Gun murders of police officers are up 47% nationally through Oct. 21, compared with the same period the previous year. In Chicago gun assaults on officers are up 100%. In New York City attacks on officers are up 23%. In the last two weeks, four California officers have been deliberately murdered.

Gangbanger John Felix prepared for his lethal attack on two Palm Springs officers on Oct. 8 by setting a trap and ambushing them as they stood outside his door. Two days earlier, parolee Trenton Trevon Lovell shot Los Angeles Sheriff’s Sgt. Steve Owen in the face as he investigated a burglary call. Lovell then stood over Sgt. Owen and fired four additional rounds into his body. A planned assassination of two officers on coffee break in Vallejo, Calif., on Oct. 17 failed only when the assault rifle used in the attack jammed. In Indianapolis on Oct. 13, police headquarters were sprayed with bullets by a car that then fled, echoing a similar attack on Oct. 4 against the same police station.

Officers are second-guessing their own justified use of force for fear of being labeled racist and losing their jobs, if not their freedom. On Oct. 5 a female officer in Chicago was beaten unconscious by a suspect in a car crash, who repeatedly bashed her face into the concrete and tore out chunks of her hair. She refrained from using her gun, she said, because she didn’t want to become the next viral video in the Black Lives Matter narrative.
The Chicago Police Department now wants to institutionalize such dangerous second-guessing. Its proposed guidelines for using force would require cops to consider the “impact that even a reasonable use of force may have on those who observe” it.

A Los Angeles police officer recently described to me his current thought process in deciding whether to intervene in suspicious or criminal behavior. A man high on meth was violently accosting pedestrians around a Santa Monica bike path. The cops were “very hesitant to arrest,” the officer said, because “we knew we would be on YouTube before we could get back to the station.” That reluctance to make contact intensifies when the suspect is black, he added.
The Black Lives Matter narrative about an epidemic of racially biased police shootings is false: Four studies published this year showed that if there is a bias in police shootings, it works in favor of blacks and against whites. Officers’ use of lethal force following an arrest for a violent felony is more than twice the rate for white as for black arrestees, according to one study. Another study showed that officers were three times less likely to shoot unarmed black suspects than unarmed whites.

We are at a crucial juncture on law and order. Police officers unquestionably need more hands-on tactical training that will help them make split-second shoot-don’t shoot decisions. Some officers develop obnoxious attitudes toward civilians that must be eradicated. But as Mr. Comey said in San Diego, “Police officers are overwhelmingly good people . . . who took exhausting, dangerous jobs because they want to help people.”

No government agency is more dedicated to the proposition that black lives matter than the police. If the next administration continues to disregard that truth in favor of a false narrative about systemic law-enforcement racism, the next four years will see more urban violence and race riots, and more dead cops.
Ms. Mac Donald, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, is the author of “The War on Cops” (Encounter Books, 2016).

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10-23-2016: Houston officials move toward landmark pension reform
HOUSTON (AP) -
http://www.newschannel10.com/story/33446530/houston-officials-move-toward-landmark-pension-reform
Two Houston pension boards have approved landmark reform that could resolve a 15-year crisis that's contributed to recent credit downgrades and severe strains on the city budget.

Details of the plan were revealed Thursday and are meant to end Houston's pension underfunding in 30 years and eliminate more than $2.5 billion in future costs by reducing benefits.

The Houston Chronicle reports (http://bit.ly/2ergbmj) the deal also includes a provision requiring benefit reductions or higher worker contributions if factors push the city's own contribution above a cap.

Several hurdles remain. For instance, the state Legislature must give its OK.

Other pension boards in Texas also are facing significant problems. The Dallas police and fire pension board this month asked that taxpayers contribute more than $36 million to pay for the pension fund's overhead costs.

Information from: Houston Chronicle, http://www.houstonchronicle.com

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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10-23-2016: California Supreme Court Set to Slash Public Pension Benefits
by CHRISS W. STREET21 Oct 2016Newport Beach, CA

http://www.breitbart.com/california/2016/10/21/pension-california-supreme-court-may-allow-slashing/

For decades, California courts have prevented any cuts to luxurious public employee pensions, but the California Supreme Court is now reviewing arguments in a case that could allow slashing benefits.
A three-judge California Appellate Court ruling in August declared that public employee retirement plans were not “immutable,” because employees only required a “reasonable” pension. The ruling was a shock to unions that have been able to sustain public pension spikes, even if they put cities like San Bernardino in bankruptcy.

The appeal now before the California Supreme Court could have an impact that reverberates across the nation. Prior court rulings created what is referred to as the “California Rule,” which guaranteed government workers the pension that was in place on the day they were first hired.

As a result, this “first-in, always-in” precedent legally perpetuated a California government system that is wildly insolvent to the tune of $484.2 billion. That works out to a stunning debt of about $77,700 for every household in the state, according to the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research “U.S. Pension Tracker.”

Law professors were stunned when the Court of Appeals came in with a unanimous ruling opening up the concept of ending public pensions as we know them. Under the ruling, a state, municipal or local government entity could terminate its current pension plan and start a new one that had significantly less luxurious benefits.

The public employees would be able to keep the benefits they had earned, but they would not be ableto calculate their pension on the highest seniority grade they made or the greatest number of years of service. This also would stop the common practice of public employees maximizing overtime in their last 2 years of employment to spike benefits.

According to Emory University law professor Sasha Volokh, the “California Rule” was created by the California Supreme Court in 1955 in a city charter amendment decision titled Allen v. City of Long Beach (Cal. 1955). The amendment sought to improve the city’s solvency by raising the amount of employees’ retirement contributions from 2 percent to 10 percent, and it changed the pension from a fluctuating amount to a fixed amount. It also required extra contributions from employees who had returned from military service.

The court held that the amendment unconstitutionally impaired the contract rights of the employees who were adversely affected. It stated that the calculation of retirement income can only be changed if it is neutral or advantageous to the employee. It can never be reduced, except for new hires.

The life of expectancy of an individual who started working for the government in 1925 at the age of 20 and working until they retired was 54 years old. That means that many public employees were dead before they could retire with 30 years for maximum benefits. But a public employee that started working for government in 1986 can expect to retire this year with 30 years of service and live until he or she is 79 years old.

Following California’s treatment of government employee pensions as contracts protected by the state constitution, there are now twelve other states that eventually adopted the equivalent of the “California Rule.”

The case now before the Supreme Court is the result of a “pension reform” law pushed by Governor Jerry Brown and passed by the Democrat-controlled legislature in 2012, when the state was teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. The law cuts pension costs by raising the retirement age for new government employees, and bans “pension spiking” for existing workers.

The once-powerful state unions are that are appealing the decision contend that employees had long been promised that benefit and took jobs because of it.

But Brown cleverly exempted the treatment of California judges’ pensions under the law. The union’s lawyer, Gregg McLean Adam, ruefully commented, “They stuck it to pretty much everybody except the judges.”

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09-15-2016: Texas GOP lawmakers aiming to ban payroll deductions for union dues

By Samantha Ketterer Follow @sam_kett sketterer@dallasnews.com
Austin correspondent
Published: 14 September 2016 05:12 PM
Updated: 14 September 2016 06:37 PM

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/headlines/20160914-texas-gop-lawmakers-aiming-to-ban-payroll-deductions-for-union-dues.ece

AUSTIN — Union supporters and business advocates clashed again Wednesday over the use of payroll deductions to collect union dues, as Senate Republicans look to resurrect a bill to ban the practice.

Texas GOP leaders have kept their eyes on the issue since a similar bill failed in the 2015 session. Last year's legislation, which would have prohibited most public employees from deducting their union dues from paychecks, as is currently allowed, died when House Democrats successfully blocked it from being heard by a committee.

Unions and public employees argued at a Senate State Affairs Committee hearing that the disagreement is a "non-issue." But Sen. Joan Huffman, the Houston Republican who chairs the committee and authored the 2015 bill against the deductions, has support from businesses and conservative groups, some of which consider the issue a top priority.

John Riddle, the president of Texas State Association of Firefighters, called efforts to do away with the dues deductions “an attack on the public sector.” Opponents argue that the practice is voluntary, and that employee organizations cannot use dues for political contributions, under state law.

“Anybody that is trying to use legislators' power to silence a group of people is wrong, period,” Riddle said.

Peace officers, firefighters and emergency medical providers were exempt from the last bill, but joined in on opposing it.

Those who support doing away with the deductions say that they are a clear conflict of interest between the government and the unions.

"We don't need to be collecting their dues" for them, said Annie Spillman, legislative director of the National Federation of Independent Business, a small business group. "You're helping them out; you're paying for everything they're doing to hurt us. Just take it off the table."

Committee Democrats questioned why businesses would care how union dues are collected.

“How would [businesses] be adversely affected by a teacher being able to have their dues deducted?” asked Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo.

Cathy DeWitt, vice president of governmental affairs for the Texas Association of Business, said there's an ethical consideration.

"Our true reason isn't what we think the unions are doing with the money or not doing with the money," she said. "We just don't think the government should be involved."

On Twitter:
@sam_kett

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09-15-2016: Chili’s hosts fundraiser for family of fallen Austin police officer

By Calily Bien

Published: September 15, 2016, 11:38 am

http://kxan.com/2016/09/15/chilis-hosts-fundraiser-for-family-of-fallen-austin-police-officer/

AUSTIN (KXAN) — If you’re headed out to dinner Thursday night, you might want to consider Chili’s since 10 percent of sales Sept. 15 will be donated directly to the family of fallen Austin Police Department Officer Amir Abdul-Khaliq.

Ofc. Abdul-Khaliq died earlier this month after he was struck by a car while escorting a funeral procession on North Burnet Road. He is survived by his five children and wife.

The 17-year veteran with APD served in the Marines before joining law enforcement. He was a long-time member of the motor unit for the department.

From 4 p.m. – 10 p.m., Chili’s restaurants in Austin and the surrounding area will host a Give Back Event to support the Abdul-Khaliq Family Fund. Customers just need to mention the Abdul-Khaliq family to their server.

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09-15-2016:
Burglary suspect dies after police shooting in southwest Austin

By Claire Ricke
Published: September 15, 2016, 4:42 am Updated: September 15, 2016, 12:31 pm

http://kxan.com/2016/09/15/apd-2-officers-on-leave-after-burglary-suspect-dies-in-shooting/

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A man is dead and two officers are on administrative leave after a shooting in southwest Austin.

Austin Police are investigating after officers shot and killed a burglary suspect around midnight on Thursday. The shooting happened at the Sedona Springs Apartments on the 4200 block of Monterrey Oaks Boulevard.

Police say it began when four officers went to investigate a car burglary at the complex around 10:20 p.m. The officers could not find the suspect and left at 11:30 p.m.

Just before midnight, officers returned after someone called 911 to say the suspect had returned. Officers found the man and caught him trying to run away behind the complex.

One officer used a Taser to take down the suspect. They say the suspect rolled over with a gun and shot at one of the officers. The officers shot back and wounded the man. None of the officers were hit by the gunfire. The suspect continued to fight officers after he was shot. The man was taken to St. David’s South Austin Medical Center where he died at 12:48 a.m.

While officials say the officer’s dash cameras were rolling, they were too far away to capture the shooting. However someone caught the whole incident on their cell phone camera which was turned over to police.

“Having watched that cell phone I stand here tonight to say we are fortunate that we didn’t lose an officer tonight,” said Brian Manley, Chief of Staff APD. “When he rolled over and produced that weapon and fired at our officers they were in very close proximity and they did an outstanding job of reacting to the deadly force that was put their way.”

Two officers were put on administrative leave after the shooting, which is standard police protocol. The officers weren’t identified but police say one has worked in the department for two years and nine months and the other has worked 23 years and eight months with Austin Police. So far the name of the suspect has not been released.

This is the seventh time this year an Austin police officer has been involved in a shooting. The most recent was on Labor Day. Police say 35-year-old Cesar Garcia raised a rifle at officers on Tech Ridge Boulevard in northeast Austin. Garcia died after the shooting.

On April 22, Tyler Hunkin was shot and killed by an Austin police officer. He was running at the officers with knives in his hands.

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07-13-2016: Chief Acevedo: Motorcycle officer ‘showing some positive signs’
By Calily Bien
Published: September 1, 2016, 11:45 am Updated: September 2, 2016, 9:31 pm

http://kxan.com/2016/09/01/apd-motorcycle-cop-injured-in-crash-on-n-burnet-road/

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Family, friends and colleagues of an Austin police motorcycle officer who was injured in a crash on North Burnet Road Thursday morning says he is in dire need of blood.

Police say the crash happened around 11:30 a.m. near the intersection of North Burnet and Ohlen Road, just south of U.S. Highway 183. Officer Amir Abdul-Khaliq, 46, was assisting with a funeral procession when he was hit by another driver. Initial information indicates the officer was going northbound on Burnet Road (with his police lights on) when the driver, who was in the center turn lane, turned left in front of the officer. Acevedo says during the procession, there was a gap and the driver thought she could make it.

Abdul-Khaliq, who has been with the department fo 16 years, was taken to the hospital where his condition has continually changed over the past 24 hours. Friday morning, Acevedo said the officer is in very serious condition and is need of blood. The Austin Police Association president says the agency worked with Abdul-Khaliq’s family to fly them in from various parts of the country so they could be by his side.

HELP by donating blood
“We thought we were in a good place, but we have some challenges,” said Acevedo. “He’s been close to death as you can possibly come.”

Acevedo tweeted it Thursday night but during Friday’s briefing, he asked for it again: prayers. “If you’re a person of faith, we all pray for one another. Right now, we all need to really pray.”

Acevedo tweeted Friday evening that Abdul-Khaliq was showing signs of improvement.

The driver who ran into the officer, 51-year-old Ana Prado, was cited for failing to yield to an emergency vehicle, which is a Class C misdemeanor. Acevedo says if the officer dies, he will push for additional charges against Prado.

The department says Khaliq has five children and was in the Army before he joined law enforcement.

“Wearing the Austin Police Department uniform, he has built bridges for his entire career and has worked with youth tirelessly,” Acevedo said of his officer.

A week ago, another APD motorcycle officer was injured when he collided with a car on North MoPac at West Anderson Lane. He suffered minor injuries.

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09-02-2016: Doctors closely monitoring injured Austin motorcycle officer

By Calily Bien
Published: September 1, 2016, 11:45 am Updated: September 2, 2016, 7:21 am

http://kxan.com/2016/09/01/apd-motorcycle-cop-injured-in-crash-on-n-burnet-road/

AUSTIN (KXAN) — An Austin police motorcycle officer injured in a crash on North Burnet Road Thursday morning is now in critical condition, Austin Police Chief Acevedo says.

Police say the crash happened around 11:30 a.m. near the intersection of North Burnet and Ohlen Road, just south of U.S. Highway 183. The officer was assisting with a funeral procession when he was hit by another driver. Initial information indicates the officer was going northbound on Burnet Road when the driver going in the opposite direction turned into the officer.

The officer was taken to the hospital with serious injuries. Thursday afternoon, Acevedo said the officer took a turn for the worse and is in “very critical condition.” A few hours later, Acevdo tweeted “the payrers are slowly being answered.”

On Facebook, Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday said the ER staff at University Medical Center Brackenridge have been doing great work. Casaday goes on to say the APA has worked with victim services to get the officer’s family flown in.

A week ago, another APD motorcycle officer was injured when he collided with a car on North MoPac at West Anderson Lane. He suffered minor injuries.

The officer has been with the department for 16 years.

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07-13-2016: The Austin Police Department is monitoring a specific threat made against its officers for Wednesday, July 13.

http://kxan.com/2016/07/12/austin-police-monitoring-specific-threat-against-law-enforcement/

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Police Department is monitoring a specific threat made against its officers for Wednesday, July 13.

Police say the threat originated on Twitter Sunday morning from an account that was immediately shut down. APD Chief of Staff Brian Manely says the threat included a message to kill officers specifically on Sixth Street at 11 p.m. Wednesday.

Even though the threat doesn’t appear to be credible, the department says it is taking it very seriously due to the attack in Dallas.

“We’ve adjusted our staffing models for this weekend,” says Manley. “We have extra resources.”

Manley says this threat wasn’t only received by APD but other law enforcement agencies in Central Texas and across the country received similar threats.

“We felt it was important that this information was shared amongst our officers as well as our citizens,” says Manley of the email notification sent to officers on Tuesday.

Earlier Tuesday, the department announced they were moving to mandatory emergency 100 percent staffing levels. The move requires all shifts to be filled completely.

In a memo, Chief Art Acevedo said the decision was made following the attacks on police officers in Dallas and the current threats against Austin police. The chief says the department will remain in emergency staffing for the next two weeks and will then reassemble to see if there’s a continued need.

Manley says don’t let these threats deter you from enjoying downtown Austin. “There’s no reason to stay away from Sixth Street this evening or any other evening.”

While no one has been arrested in connection with Sunday’s threat, APD is working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to determine who was behind the threat.

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07-01-2016: Austin police moves to 100 percent staffing in response to Dallas

http://kxan.com/2016/07/08/austin-police-moves-to-100-percent-staffing-in-response-to-dallas/

By Calily Bien and Claire Ricke
Published: July 8, 2016, 3:05 am Updated: July 8, 2016, 8:05 am

AUSTIN (KXAN) — In a letter sent out to members early Friday morning, the Austin Police Association president, Ken Casaday, says the department is beefing up staffing in light of the attack in Dallas.

“The officers were there to protect the people that were marching in the Black Lives Matter March, they were there to help them navigate the streets,” said Casaday. “And then you have these idiots, criminals and murderers that just cowardly shot.”

While Casaday didn’t elaborate in his statement about Austin police’s response to the attack, he did say “executive staff members have advised me that the department will be moving to 100 percent staffing immediately.”

It’ll be up to the shift sergeants at various precincts to determine if the patrol units will be manned with two officers instead of one. Casaday says all vacancies at the department are currently being backfilled by officers who work overtime.

“I’ve been on the phone here this morning dealing with our own employment structure and what we’re going to do in the coming weeks,” said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo. “We want to make sure our officers are safe, want to make sure the people know that we are going to be prepared to defend ourselves and our community.”

Acevedo said the order to 100 percent staffing will continue for the coming weeks. The decision to ramp up police staff comes just in time for what Acevedo says are the most violent months of every year; July and August.

The last time an Austin Police Department officer was involved in a shooting where the officer fired their weapon was June 14. A SWAT officer fired and hit 19-year-old Ray Barbosa Ojeda after police say he threatened them with a machete. Ojeda was taken to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the abdomen; he survived his injuries.

In April, two APD officers were injured in two separate shootings. On April 3, Officer Armando Perez, 37, was shot in the abdomen during a scuffle with 25-year-old Darrin Martin. Perez returned fire and killed Martin. Less than two weeks later, on April 14, Officer James Pittman suffered a shot to the knee while serving a warrant at a home in North Austin.

“It’s just an absolute, horrible tragedy and our heart goes out to all the families there and our brothers and sisters in blue,” said Casaday.

Acevedo was at a rally in Austin for Alton Sterling and said he “was very proud of the fact that they did so in a lawful peaceful manner.”

“This is Austin we do things right here, but we want to make sure we’re ready for anything,” said Acevedo.

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07-11-2016: APD increases staffing, says violent crimes on the rise
http://kxan.com/2016/07/08/police-chief-increases-staffing-says-violent-crimes-on-the-rise/

By Kylie McGivern
Published: July 8, 2016, 11:04 pm Updated: July 8, 2016, 11:11 pm

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Following the attack in Dallas, where five police officers were shot dead, APD Chief Art Acevedo warned Friday that violent crimes like rape, murder and robbery are up across the city. Since January, 1,834 attacks have been reported. That’s almost a 20 percent increase from the same time period last year. And the chief says we’ll likely see a surge in crimes this month and next.

According to APD crime reports, the areas with the biggest jump in violent crimes are Downtown Austin, East Austin and Northwest Austin, where police recorded a 41 percent increase.

We caught up with a retired city employee who was attacked last year in a string of armed robberies, to get his take on the increase. We first sat down with James Bushner last September, as he shared his incredible story of surviving a bullet to the face. Today, he’s moving at a slower pace, retired from Austin Water where he worked as an employee for 20 years. It’s where he worked when he went out to check a meter on Manor Road, and came face to face with a gun.

“He said, if you don’t give me your money and your wallet, I’m going to kill you,” Bushner recalls. He told the man he didn’t have any money on him. He doesn’t even carry a wallet. “He said it again and I said, ‘What did I say?’ … He jumped. ‘Pow!'”

Just above Bushner’s right cheek, rests a scar.

“Hit my glasses, my safety glasses – knocked them off. Hit me here,” he said, pointing to his face. It serves as a reminder, not filled with rage, but rather, forgiveness.

“I had to dig down in my soul to forgive that boy. I’m not going to lie to you. But I have to do that daily. Every day I get up, Lord help me to forgive that boy,” Bushner told KXAN.

As he thinks back to that early morning and hears violent crime rates are rising, he says with Austin’s growth come people of all kinds.

He says he can’t speak for them.

“They out there doing dumb stuff. You know, people are, you understand, and I don’t know why. I’m not going to try to justify it, you know what I’m saying. I just thank God that I made it through,” Bushner said.

He can only speak of his gratitude for something bigger than himself.

Friday, Acevedo announced APD will be moving to 100 percent staffing through August, on the heels of the Dallas attack, and ahead of the historically higher crime months. Acevedo says officer overtime will be funded through APD’s existing overtime budget.

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07-11-2016: Austin police to help Cleveland with security at GOP convention
http://www.statesman.com/news/news/national-govt-politics/austin-police-to-help-cleveland-with-security-at-g/nrPtF/

Austin police to help Cleveland with security at GOP convention
5:21 p.m. Wednesday, May 18, 2016 | Filed in: Nation & World

About 90 Austin police officers will head to Cleveland in July to help with security for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump and the Republican National Convention, the American-Statesman has learned.

The event, which an Austin police commander called the “Super Bowl of crowd control,” is expected to draw thousands of protesters and led the city of Cleveland to make a nationwide call for assistance from other police departments.

The agreement, which Austin officials signed in early May, has rankled the Austin Police Association union’s leadership over the decision to send scores of officers into what could be a highly volatile situation at a time when staffing shortages have reached “critical” levels at home.

“It bothers me,” union President Ken Casaday said. “I just find it a little strange that we are sending 90 people up there when there is a critical shortage of patrol officers in our department.”

After Cleveland issued a request to major state and city police departments for 2,500 officers to assist with the convention, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo became enthusiastic about sending local officers to the event. Austin police Cmdr. Stephen Deaton, who will serve as one of the chief liaisons between Cleveland police and Austin officers at the event, said it was a chance to help out fellow officers in need.

“With Trump being the presumptive candidate, there have been arrests and violence almost anywhere where he has had a rally,” Deaton said. “It’s like going to the Super Bowl; you train and you train and that’s what you do. But it’s not a chance to showcase; it is clearly about (Cleveland) asking for our help.”

The event will take place at the Quicken Loans Arena, an NBA arena that holds about 20,000 people. However, Cleveland officials expect thousands of protesters to be among the 50,000 people expected to visit the city July 18-21 during the convention.

The agreement includes Cleveland obtaining a $10 million law enforcement insurance liability policy should Austin police officers be sued for actions taken during the convention.

The union president and a lawyer from the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas will go to the convention as well “in case a riot breaks out,” Casaday said.

Cleveland officials, who haven’t signed the agreement yet, are expected to make the partnership official Thursday. It will reimburse Austin police for all expenses incurred, including travel, lodging, salary and overtime, through a federal grant.

Staffing shifts left empty by officers who travel to Cleveland will create overtime for officers who stay in Austin and therefore cost taxpayers, Casaday said.

But Austin police see a possibility of cost savings for the city through the partnership. The federal grant will pay the salaries of the officers headed to Cleveland for the six days that they are there, according to the agreement.

“Our goal is to not cost the taxpayer any money, and I think we are going to meet that goal,” Deaton said.

Deaton said there is an outside chance that the agreement will fall through, but he said it appeared unlikely.

Austin police have sent officers to out-of-state political events in the past, namely, the past three presidential inaugurations. The department also sent officers to Houston after Hurricane Ike to assist with enforcing curfews. But they have never gone to a partisan convention.

The officers headed there are part of a 120-officer strong unit known as the Special Response Team. It’s a group of officers specially trained to deal with large crowds. They deploy only a few times a year, including the peak attendance days of South by Southwest and the Texas Relays.

The number of officers who will head to Cleveland is far below the number of Austin police pulled off their regular duties during the peak of SXSW, when all special response officers are deployed along with scores of officers staffing street barricades and performing walking patrols.

They are equipped with gear most often associated with riot police — shields, helmets with protective face masks, tear gas and bean bag guns — designed to disperse unruly crowds, should that be deemed necessary.

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07-01-2016: APD sergeant awarded Badge of Bravery for stopping downtown shooter
By Claire Ricke
Published: July 1, 2016, 10:05 am Updated: July 1, 2016, 6:33 pm

http://kxan.com/2016/07/01/apd-officer-receives-badge-of-bravery-for-stopping-downtown-shooter/

AUSTIN (KXAN) — With a gun in one hand and the reigns of his horses in the other, Austin Police Department Sgt. Adam Johnson killed a downtown shooter with one single shot.

The Austin police officer is now getting national recognition for his efforts that stopped a man who opened fire in downtown Austin on the day after Thanksgiving in 2014.

Sgt. Johnson was in the process of putting up the Mounted Patrol horses when he heard the shots outside of the APD building. While holding the reins of two horses agitated by the gunfire, Johnson fired one round from his handgun, from 312 feet away, at the shooter, 49-year-old Larry McQuilliams, killing him. Police say McQuilliams fired hundreds of rounds at the Mexican Consulate, Federal Court and the Austin Police Department headquarters before being stopped.

On Friday, Johnson was awarded the Department of Justice’s Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery. U.S. Senator John Cornyn presented the award. Johnson is a 16-year veteran of the department.

Sgt. Johnson says while his story is getting a lot of recognition, a lot of other officers were heroic as well.

“There’s a lot of stories from that night and too many acts of bravery to count,” Johnson said.

It took nearly a year to replace the windows shooter McQuilliams shattered at APD headquarters. The physical damage may be in the past, but Sgt. Johnson says the memories from that night have stayed with him every day since.

“There was definitely a higher power at work that night,” Sgt. Johnson said. “That’s what had to be done, right that minute, and it was gonna happen. Regardless of what I did, I mean – it was a pretty powerful moment in my life. The most profound moment in my life.”

In December of 2015, Johnson was named national Officer of the Month by the National law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial Fund.

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06-10-2016: Austin police union members give Chief Acevedo bad reviews

By Andy Jechow and Kylie McGivern
Published: June 9, 2016, 7:00 pm Updated: June 9, 2016, 10:57 pm

http://kxan.com/2016/06/09/austin-police-union-members-give-chief-bad-reviews/

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The results of an Austin Police Association members’ survey were released Thursday. Austin Police Department leadership and Chief Art Acevedo were given poor marks.

Fifty-one percent of active members responded to the survey, or 883 of 1,728 members.

When it came to morale within the department, 55 percent reviewed it as “poor,” followed by 31 percent who said it was “only fair.”

Officers said “better leadership” would make the biggest improvement in their jobs (47 percent), followed by additional manpower (43 percent).

The majority of members said the chief is “often arbitrary or politically-driven in high-profile disciplinary cases,” with 53 percent strongly agreeing. When asked if the chief often relies on fear and retaliation in managing the department, 37 percent strongly agreed and 29 percent agreed.

Most members also strongly agreed that political considerations were primarily responsible for the firing of Officer Geoffrey Freeman, who shot and killed 17-year-old David Joseph.

When asked to give a vote of confidence, 23 percent of members said they had faith Acevedo can lead the department effectively in the future. Forty-two percent said they did not, while 35 percent were uncertain.

The Austin Police Association, however, was given mostly good reviews by its membership, with 28 percent and 55 percent finding the organization to be doing an excellent and good job, respectively.

KXAN caught up with Council Member Don Zimmerman Thursday at City Hall, just before council dove back into discussions surrounding APD body cameras. Just as there is a desire to know more about what happens when officers are out on a call, Zimmerman says he wants to know more about what’s happening within APD. We showed him APA’s survey results.

“I don’t have enough of an inside view to tell what’s going on there. I really don’t. And that’s part of the point I’m making, is that the council is pretty well isolated from what’s going on in APD,” Zimmerman said.

APA President Ken Casaday said rather than argue about whether or not there are issues within the department, the union decided to reinforce concerns with numbers.

When asked if he was surprised by any of the survey results, Casaday said, “One of the bigger ones was, ‘What would make your job easier?’ And I thought for sure, more officers would be number one. And actually, number one was leadership.”

Chief Acevedo responded to the survey results Thursday, saying, “I am excited at the opportunity this survey provides to address the concerns raised.”

He continued, “I look forward to working with our leadership cadre to ensure we are doing everything we can to continue moving our organization forward. Our work is especially critical in light of the current negative climate nationally as it relates to policing.”

Acevedo said he is proud of the officers that keep Austin one of the safest cities in the country, “I am confident the best days of the APD are yet to come.”

Casaday said he and the chief had a good meeting earlier this week, and agreed to sit down to discuss staffing models. APD is facing recruiting challenges and as of two months ago, had a shortage of more than 100 positions.

The chief was punished for “insubordination” by City Manager Marc Ott after he met with Austin police cadets in regards to the David Joseph case. Ott warned warned the police chief to let the administrative process run its “normal course,” to stop meeting with groups, including Austin police and its cadets, as well as Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday on the issue of the David Joseph case.

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05-31-2016: Wisconsin officer shot after gun taken away, Good Samaritan who tried to intervene shot in chest
May 29, 2016 Bill Benson

http://www.goheroes.news/2016/05/29/wisconsin-officer-shot-after-gun-taken-away-good-samaritan-who-tried-to-intervene-shot-in-chest/

APPLETON, Wisconsin – A suspect in a string of retail thefts took the gun from a police officer and then shot her and a Good Samaritan before fatally shooting himself. The officer and bystander are recovering with gunshot wounds.

Friday evening at around 10:37 pm, Appleton police responded to a theft of cigarettes at the Mobil Gas station at 2811 E. Newberry Street, a statement read. “The attendant provided a detailed description of the suspect who had fled the store before we arrived. We were unable to locate the suspect at that time.”

At approximately 12:04 A.M., police responded to another call of a theft of cigarettes at the Moto Mart Gas Station at 320 S. Kensington Drive. The description of the suspect provided by the attendant matched the description provided from the earlier theft complaint, they said.

Officers were dispatched to the complaint and an officer located a male matching that description walking in the 900 block of Kensington Drive. The officer attempted to stop the male and he refused to stop or obey orders. At some point the male eventually turned around and approached the officer.

The officer got out of her squad car and tried to control the suspect using verbal commands. The suspect did not comply and continued to come at her. She disengaged and moved backwards and attempted to use other control options, including her Taser, to try and control the suspect, police said. The male suspect continued his assault and attacked the officer and attempted to take her gun. The officer and the male fought violently for control of her firearm according to authorities.

“Two men in a passing car saw the fight and stopped behind the officer’s squad car and got out to help. At this point the suspect was able to disarm the officer and fired at her, striking her one time in the hip area. The male than fired additional rounds towards the citizens who had stopped to assist her and one of them was struck in the upper chest area,” the report continued.

According to multiple independent witnesses to the event the male suspect then shot himself in the head. The male suspect died at the scene, the female officer and the male victim were transported to a local hospital where they underwent surgery and are recovering. Their injuries are not life-threatening. The officer was shot in the hip according to reports, and the citizen was struck in the upper chest.
“This death was not caused by the direct action, or omission to act, of a police officer. Even though it was not required to be investigated by an outside agency, I felt that our commitment to being transparent would best be fulfilled by having an outside agency investigate the incident for us.”

The Green Bay Police Department is assisting in the investigation.

At this point police will not be releasing any of the names of the individuals involved out of respect for their families and to give them time to notify relatives and cope with this situation.

“…to our officer that was involved; you know how much we all love you, you are like a sister or daughter to us; we are very proud of how you fought and survived this brutal attack. You and your family will constantly be in our thoughts and prayers and thank you for being a shining example of what is great about law enforcement, a willingness to put it all on the line in the service of others,” the statement concluded.

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04-01-2016: Austin police honored at the 2016 Distinguished Awards Gala

By Marievel Santiago
Published: May 1, 2016, 5:43 pm

http://kxan.com/2016/05/01/austin-police-honored-at-the-2016-distinguished-awards-gala/

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Several APD officers were honored at the annual Officers Distinguished Awards Ceremony Saturday night.

The ceremony awards recognize the men and women that have gone above and beyond in the line of duty.

One of the officers honored this year was Ryan Miller.

Miller received the Medal of Valor for flying a helicopter with his partner, while taking multiple sniper shots from a gunman last February.

“My partner and I are both very happy that we were able to assist in that call,” Miller said.

Hundreds of officers, community leaders and their families attended the event.

 

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03-31-2016: APD officer cleared in man’s death

By Claire RickePublished: March 31, 2016, 12:22 pm Updated: March 31, 2016, 1:35 pm

http://kxan.com/2016/03/31/apd-officer-cleared-in-mans-death/
AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin police officer Martha Cameron will not be charged in the death of James F. Sizer from March 2015.

Five hours of testimony and seven witnesses later, the Grand Jury ruled in favor of Cameron who used a taser on a man causing him to hit his head and later die. Cameron was called to Sizer’s residence March 6, 2015 responding to his and a neighbor’s 911 calls of gun shots fired.

Sizer was waiting for the officer outside his house located on the 11900 block of Bittern Hollow. When Cameron arrived she demanded Sizer to get down on the ground. According to the press release, Sizer failed to comply leading to Cameron using a taser on him. Sizer fell and hit his head.

• APD turning to detectives to cover officer shortage

He was treated for blunt force trauma overnight and later taken to jail. Sizer was released and died at his home March 14 from complications sustained when he fell. A family member found Sizer deceased in a bathtub.

The lawsuit filed last year against the officer and the city of Austin, states Cameron used excessive force leading to the wrongful death. The family’s attorneys claim Sizer did not have enough warning to get on the ground, which he was unable to do due to a medical condition. After he fell and hit his head on the concrete, the lawsuit said, Cameron “interrogated him as he was bleeding.”

After being treated in the hospital, Sizer was charged for discharging a firearm. The lawsuit said the charges were filed lacking evidence.
Last month, a SWAT officer who shot and killed a man who was firing shots at the department’s helicopter was also no billed by a grand jury.

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03-30-2016: APD detectives to patrol, making up for officer shortage

Chris-Sadeghi
By Chris Sadeghi

http://kxan.com/2016/03/30/apd-detectives-to-patrol-making-up-for-officer-shortage/

Published: March 30, 2016, 1:43 pm Updated: March 30, 2016, 6:33 pm

USTIN (KXAN) — Facing recruiting challenges and a shortage of more than 100 positions, the Austin Police Department will be moving detectives and other non-patrol officers to the streets to boost the available manpower to respond to 911 calls.

“Nothing we do is more important than responding to 911 calls” said APD Commander Joseph Chacon.

As the population has exploded, the city and the department have struggled to fund and fill positions to keep pace. By asking detectives to work patrol for seven days at a time every four months, Chacon said it is a stopgap measure that helps serve the public’s safety and increase the amount of officers on the street with only a minimal impact on investigations.

“By taking them out for a short period of time, it does not negatively affect caseload for that one week,” said Chacon. “They can schedule their work, their interviews, their case flow around that week.”

But the Austin Police Association does not believe the move is the best way to bridge the staffing gap. Association President Ken Casaday called for better patrol staffing after criticism of recently fired officer Geoffrey Freeman in the deadly shooting of David Joseph. Though he is happy the department is addressing the patrol staffing issue, he said overtime pay for officers already working daily patrol would be the least disruptive and most efficient method.

APD said they were considering putting detectives on patrol even before Joseph’s death.

“We are saying there is money for overtime and there should be money for overtime,” said Casaday. “The city says the department has it and the department says they do not. So someone is not being honest.”

Chacon said although they do try to limit overtime, they do pay officers overtime when necessary and it was not the driving factor in the decision to have detectives patrol.

“This is more about consistency. We know we are going to have a good, strong base of officers working,” said Chacon.

Some detectives on the department have not worked patrol in years and the department will require brief training, a refresher course of sorts, for updated policies. Many detectives wear plain clothes to work, but will be required to wear the standard duty uniform while on patrol. Casaday said detectives will be issued Tasers for patrol and must re-familiarize themselves with the patrol cars that have undergone technological changes over the years. He believes the issue of backfilling patrol positions is an issue that must be worked out when the collective bargaining agreement ends in 2017.

“There are lots of things I don’t think the department thought about when they chose this method,” he said. “[Detectives] are not thrilled with it, but they understand they are police officers and they have to do what the chief tells them to do.”

According to APD, there are 290 designated detective positions and 1,237 officers. There are 656 authorized positions assigned to patrol.

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03-23-2016: Crimewatch: APD officers dealing with on-the-job injuries

By Noelle Newton

POSTED:MAR 22 2016 11:54AM CDT
UPDATED:MAR 22 2016 11:54AM CDT

CLICK below to view the story online with video:
http://www.fox7austin.com/news/fox-7-special-archive/crimewatch/111641045-story

When police officers put on the badge, they don't just risk taking a bullet. They chance a lifetime of pain from on-the-job injuries. In this week's Crime Watch, FOX 7's Noelle Newton looks into the hundreds of injuries Austin police report each year and their passion to overcome and get back out there.

Austin Police Detective Robert Holsonback battles through an intense strengthening treatment for a torn rotator cuff.

Holsonback says he was reaching back for his shotgun in his patrol car during a pre-shift inspection when he felt a pull in his right shoulder.

The overnight violent crime investigator has been on light duty since January.

Coaching him along is a doctor who, 16 years ago, helped him overcome another injury that many doctors told him would end his law enforcement career.

"I was picked up and thrown while trying to arrest a guy who was trying to kill his girlfriend," said Detective Holsonback.

The incident resulted in three herniated disks and extensive surgical repair.

"I had to have a two-level fusion. So I have two, six inch titanium rods and five titanium screws holding my lower back together now," said Holsonback.

Holsonback credits Dr. Minors for getting him back on patrol.

Hundreds of officers are hurt each year at APD.

One of the more recent incidents involved an officer who was burned attempting to rescue a man from a vehicle that was on fire.

Very few cases make headlines.

In 2014, 645 injury reports were filed. Incidents included exposure to infectious diseases, hearing loss, assaults by suspects and falls during icy rescues.

One officer missed 264 days of work after being ordered by a doctor to remain home to recover.

In 2015, 620 officers reported injuries.

Mitch Slaymaker, deputy executive director for the Texas Municipal Police Association, says whatever the total is, you can easily double it. Not all officers will acknowledge their ailments.

"Several factors play into that. There's the machismo culture. You don't want to admit that you were an actual victim, they got the better of you, you got hurt. So you suck it up, you move on. It's part of the culture of policing," said Slaymaker.

The TMPA only tracks officers assaulted in the line of duty. Statewide, 4,330 officers reported being injured by a suspect in 2014. 1,645 cases were deemed major injury.

81 percent of the incidents were classified as "strong-arm" involving hands, fists and feet. The rest included some sort of weapon.

Slaymaker has endured his fair share of pains.

"During 18 years of patrol on the street I've had a fractured tibia, a fractured fibula, hand, third degree ankle sprain, I've been knocked unconscious. Those are just the big ones," said Slaymaker.

Dr. Minors refers to his law enforcement patients as occupational athletes. He treats them the same as the professional athletes in the photos hanging on his walls.

"They have to be game ready, or as we say service ready. They need to stay healthy and they need to recover quickly which is the same thing with a pro-athlete," said Minors.

Minors hopes Holsonback can return to his normal shift in a month. Minors finds his tenacity inspiring.

"There is a deep commitment to the public," Minors said. "He's one of those people that doesn't put himself first. It's about making sure everyone is safe, everyone within his power is safe. I have such respect for that. This is my way of giving back to all of these guys because I'm not a police officer, but I respect deeply what they do."

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03-22-2016: APD fires officer who shot, killed David Joseph
By Claire Ricke and Calily Bien
Published: March 21, 2016, 5:28 am Updated: March 21, 2016, 10:52 pm

CLICK BELOW TO VIEW THE STORY WITH VIDEO
http://kxan.com/2016/03/21/officer-freeman-waives-right-to-hearing-in-17-year-olds-death/

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin police officer involved in last month’s deadly shooting of 17-year-old David Joseph has been fired by the Austin Police Department.

Officer Geoffrey Freeman, 41, was scheduled for a disciplinary hearing on Monday afternoon, but his attorney said he waived his rights to the hearing because he already answered all the questions the department asked. Since Freeman waived his right to a hearing, it was up to Chief Art Acevedo to determine his fate with the department.

Police say Freeman shot and killed Joseph, who was unarmed and naked on Feb. 8 in North Austin. Freeman was originally called to an apartment complex in the 300 block of East Yager Lane for a report of a man chasing another man around the complex. When Freeman arrived, he spoke to the witness but was not able to immediately locate the suspect, until a short time later on Natures Bend. In a verbal statement given by Freeman at the scene, when he encountered Joseph he gave him several commands to stop, but Joseph continued to “charge” towards him. The Austin Police Department’s Chief of Staff Brian Manley said it was then that Freeman fired the shots at Joseph, which occurred out of frame from the officer’s dash camera.

In a press conference Monday, Acevedo said after a long investigation involving Freeman’s supervisors and other department heads, he determined “based on the totality of circumstances, we didn’t agree that the officer’s use of deadly force was needed” and that it was not “justified in this case.” He goes on to say Freeman’s actions were not “consistent with the standards and training of the Austin Police Department.”

READ: Officer Freeman’s disciplinary memo
https://lintvkxan.files.wordpress.com/2016/03/officer-geoffrey-freeman.pdf

According to Freeman’s disciplinary memo, Freeman “chose to confront Mr. Joseph alone” and he “chose to utilize deadly force… even though he knew other officers had yet to arrive but were imminently in route.” Since Freeman was concerned the subject was possibly “losing it or high or something,” the memo indicates he should have waited for back-up since the subject was displaying symptoms of “Substance Induced Excited Delirium.”

Freeman told investigators he had his weapon drawn, while the subject “was naked, unarmed and had not injured any person.” Acevedo cited in the memo that Freeman “chose to immediately respond to this situation with deadly force rather than using a lesser amount of force that was available to him (ASP, Taser, Pepper Spray, physical force).”

Last week, Freeman’s attorney, Grant Goodwin, also accused Acevedo of pre-deciding the case. This conclusion was drawn based on the Chief’s statements to the media and the Joseph family. In a letter to Acevedo, Freeman’s attorney said, “Your statements and conduct prior to the completion of the investigation, including statements made to the media, activists, APD cadets and officers indicate that you are passing judgment on this case without regard to APD training, policy or the integrity of the investigation.”

In a response to the firing, a spokesperson for the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas says they are putting Acevedo “on notice” and the agency plans on appealing the “unjust and politically motivated firing” of Freeman. The Austin Police Association says it believes “Officer Freeman will be exonerated after the Grand Jury process.”

Acevedo says his decision wasn’t politically motivated and responded to CLEAT’s comment directly: “I’ve been here for nine years now, if anyone knows this chief, it’s them. We base our decision on facts, based on policy, based on the law, not based on which way the wind’s going. My job is not to take a poll, my job is to make a call. It was a call I made unanimously and I stand by it.”

Last week, Joseph’s family told KXAN the autopsy results showed there was Xanax, Antihistamines and marijuana in his system. The family says there was not gunshot residue on Joseph, which shows the two were several feet apart.

“My family is glad to hear that Officer Freeman will not hurt any other unarmed Black men,” said Fally Joseph, David’s brother, in a statement. “When he took my brother away from us, he stole something no one can ever give us back. We are glad to know that the City of Austin thinks David’s life mattered, and that Officer Freeman will not be on the streets again.”

“Chief Acevedo’s apology is appreciated, but rings hollow unless he takes immediate steps to protect young, Black and minority kids from being shot. We urge Chief Acevedo to immediately take the other steps actually recommended by the police union, such as making sure each shift is fully staffed, and that officers have recurring training in using non-lethal force. David would be alive with his family today if Freeman wasn’t the only officer on the scene, and if he’d been trained to use non-lethal force first,” said Joseph’s family attorney Jeff Edwards.

While the community still has some unanswered questions, Acevedo wants to remind everyone there are two families involved in this incident.

“I urge people to not demonize a person,” said Acevedo. “Ofc. Freeman but for this horrible set of circumstances, he served honorably. But based on this set of circumstances we don’t believe he needs to remain in this department.”

Joseph family lawyers react

The Joseph family lawyers watched the announcement from their office.

“Here the facts were so egregious that there was really only one conclusion for the police department to draw. I’m pleased that they drew the appropriate conclusion,” said Jeff Edwards, who represents the Joseph’s, “David, like any young man needed some help. Instead he was met with bullets.”

Freeman, who had been with APD for 10 years, has 10 days to file an appeal.

The department is also filing a motion to withhold the Internal Affairs records from public release as the District Attorney’s Office continues its investigation.

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02-25-2016: Mass shootings may have prompted departures from Colorado Springs Police Department
By: Kaitlin Durbin
• February 29, 2016 at 9:16 am

http://m.gazette.com/mass-shootings-may-have-prompted-departures-from-colorado-springs-police-department/article/1570957

Some Colorado Springs police turned in their badges after an increasingly violent year, particularly in the past four months.

Fifty-two officers left the force in 2015, 11 of them resigning Oct. 31 or later. Their resignation letters blame violence against law enforcement for their swift exits, the majority leaving the department after less than two years.

The job has become too risky, they said, especially after two mass shootings that closed out the year. Two Colorado officers have been shot and killed this year.

Former Colorado Springs police Cmdr. Fletcher Howard, who retired this month after 38 years with the department, said the culture of violence has everyone on edge. Citizens don't show the same regard for law enforcement and authority as they did 15 years ago, he said.

The result has been deadly.

"When you give your oath of office, you don't really think, 'Well, I'm going into this profession to go to battle every day.' We're not military officers that are stationed overseas, where that's what you're going to encounter quite a bit because you're in a wartime situation," Howard said. "It's just a very tough job now."

It's not solely the major cases, which police expect to encounter occasionally, that have officers worried. Even performing daily duties has become a risk, Howard said, mentioning the two New York officers who were killed execution style while sitting in their cruisers in December.

The violence has not escaped Colorado.

This week, Park County sheriff's Cpl. Nate Carrigan was shot and killed while helping serve an eviction order. Two deputies were injured.

Two weeks ago, Mesa County sheriff's deputy Derek Geer was gunned down while trying to question a 17-year-old who authorities said was walking down a street carrying a firearm and wearing a bandana over his face.

Three months ago, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs police officer Garrett Swasey was killed while responding to a shooting at the city's Planned Parenthood clinic. Five officers were injured.

"I think officers are really more concerned for their safety because you never know what you're going to walk into," Howard said. "You can't take matters routinely like you used to."

The increased danger seems to have officers questioning whether it's worth it.

For Brett Lentz, the answer appears to have been no.

Lentz worked at the department less than two years when he decided it was too dangerous and left. With a day's notice, he resigned Dec. 7, 10 days after the Planned Parenthood shooting.

"Over the last six months, police departments and law enforcement personnel have become a target of the media and several political institutions. I chose not to continue in this line of work as the risk to me and my family has become too high and there is too much to lose," Lentz wrote in his resignation letter.

He did not return The Gazette's attempts to contact him.

Many officers had similar reasons for leaving:

- Trey Johnson left after nine months, saying in his resignation letter the move was "based on family and personal issues."

- Scott Mathis wrote he decided to leave after nearly five years after "a lengthy discussion with my family."

- John DeClerck served 13 years with the department before resigning "for the benefit of the family" and moving to Oregon.

- Nearly two-year officer Nicole Lamb said she'll "look to other endeavors."

Seven of the officers who left since Oct. 31 gave only a day or two's notice.

Charles Surratt didn't submit a resignation letter when he left after nine months, police spokeswoman Lt. Catherine Buckley said.

Surratt was the only officer of the 11 who was directly involved in one of the mass shootings that marred the end of 2015, according to records.

He was in training when he responded to the bloody Halloween rampage in which shooter Noah Harpham killed three before being fatally shot by police. Surratt and three others were placed on paid leave after the shooting.

He resigned 38 days later - and 11 days after the Planned Parenthood shooting.

None of the resigning officers were listed as victims in the Nov. 27 rampage, according to charging documents filed by the 4th Judicial District Attorney's Office.

While Buckley doesn't deny "we have had some officers who have decided police work isn't for them," she cited others who returned to the military, transferred to another department or returned to the corporate world.

To her, the danger of the job isn't turning people away, it's "something an officer starts their career with."

"When you become an officer, and take that oath, you understand there are those risks and there are dangers," Buckley said. "It's something that I signed up for and that we all know is a possibility."

Even so, a Denver-based group, headed by Ron MacLachlan, is worried about the "tension" between police and the public, according to a news release.

Pro Police Rally Colorado is holding a Law Enforcement Appreciation Day event to "remind our children that those who put on a uniform to serve and protect our community deserve our respect and support," the release said. The event starts at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Douglas County Fairground, 500 Fairgrounds Drive, Castle Rock.

The Colorado Springs community is more supportive of law enforcement than in other areas of the country, Howard said. A citizen satisfaction survey routinely conducted typically returns with about a 90 percent positive rating.

But things can change in an instant, he said.

"All it takes is one explosive episode to taint the image of particular law enforcement or community," Howard said.

Howard thinks increasing manpower could help stave off issues. Right now, law enforcement officers are "outgunned" and "outmanned," he said.

The number of Colorado Springs officers patrolling streets hasn't increased in years, he said. With about 600 officers on payroll, according to Howard's estimate, there is about one city officer per 1,000 residents. It should be twice that many, he said.

Two rounds of recruits to the police academy scheduled this year aim to fill out lines, with 48 recruits sought for each class, the first of which started in January. But it will be a year or more before they're patrolling streets on their own, Howard said.

The El Paso County Sheriff's Office advertised openings in January, as has the Colorado State Patrol. Neither listed how many officers were needed.

"You just never know what you're going to get yourself into nowadays," Howard said. "(Officers) really, really have to watch their back."

Mass shootings may have prompted departures from Colorado Springs Police Department
By: Kaitlin Durbin
• February 29, 2016 at 9:16 am

http://m.gazette.com/mass-shootings-may-have-prompted-departures-from-colorado-springs-police-department/article/1570957

Some Colorado Springs police turned in their badges after an increasingly violent year, particularly in the past four months.

Fifty-two officers left the force in 2015, 11 of them resigning Oct. 31 or later. Their resignation letters blame violence against law enforcement for their swift exits, the majority leaving the department after less than two years.

The job has become too risky, they said, especially after two mass shootings that closed out the year. Two Colorado officers have been shot and killed this year.

Former Colorado Springs police Cmdr. Fletcher Howard, who retired this month after 38 years with the department, said the culture of violence has everyone on edge. Citizens don't show the same regard for law enforcement and authority as they did 15 years ago, he said.

The result has been deadly.

"When you give your oath of office, you don't really think, 'Well, I'm going into this profession to go to battle every day.' We're not military officers that are stationed overseas, where that's what you're going to encounter quite a bit because you're in a wartime situation," Howard said. "It's just a very tough job now."

It's not solely the major cases, which police expect to encounter occasionally, that have officers worried. Even performing daily duties has become a risk, Howard said, mentioning the two New York officers who were killed execution style while sitting in their cruisers in December.

The violence has not escaped Colorado.

This week, Park County sheriff's Cpl. Nate Carrigan was shot and killed while helping serve an eviction order. Two deputies were injured.

Two weeks ago, Mesa County sheriff's deputy Derek Geer was gunned down while trying to question a 17-year-old who authorities said was walking down a street carrying a firearm and wearing a bandana over his face.

Three months ago, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs police officer Garrett Swasey was killed while responding to a shooting at the city's Planned Parenthood clinic. Five officers were injured.

"I think officers are really more concerned for their safety because you never know what you're going to walk into," Howard said. "You can't take matters routinely like you used to."

The increased danger seems to have officers questioning whether it's worth it.

For Brett Lentz, the answer appears to have been no.

Lentz worked at the department less than two years when he decided it was too dangerous and left. With a day's notice, he resigned Dec. 7, 10 days after the Planned Parenthood shooting.

"Over the last six months, police departments and law enforcement personnel have become a target of the media and several political institutions. I chose not to continue in this line of work as the risk to me and my family has become too high and there is too much to lose," Lentz wrote in his resignation letter.

He did not return The Gazette's attempts to contact him.

Many officers had similar reasons for leaving:

- Trey Johnson left after nine months, saying in his resignation letter the move was "based on family and personal issues."

- Scott Mathis wrote he decided to leave after nearly five years after "a lengthy discussion with my family."

- John DeClerck served 13 years with the department before resigning "for the benefit of the family" and moving to Oregon.

- Nearly two-year officer Nicole Lamb said she'll "look to other endeavors."

Seven of the officers who left since Oct. 31 gave only a day or two's notice.

Charles Surratt didn't submit a resignation letter when he left after nine months, police spokeswoman Lt. Catherine Buckley said.

Surratt was the only officer of the 11 who was directly involved in one of the mass shootings that marred the end of 2015, according to records.

He was in training when he responded to the bloody Halloween rampage in which shooter Noah Harpham killed three before being fatally shot by police. Surratt and three others were placed on paid leave after the shooting.

He resigned 38 days later - and 11 days after the Planned Parenthood shooting.

None of the resigning officers were listed as victims in the Nov. 27 rampage, according to charging documents filed by the 4th Judicial District Attorney's Office.

While Buckley doesn't deny "we have had some officers who have decided police work isn't for them," she cited others who returned to the military, transferred to another department or returned to the corporate world.

To her, the danger of the job isn't turning people away, it's "something an officer starts their career with."

"When you become an officer, and take that oath, you understand there are those risks and there are dangers," Buckley said. "It's something that I signed up for and that we all know is a possibility."

Even so, a Denver-based group, headed by Ron MacLachlan, is worried about the "tension" between police and the public, according to a news release.

Pro Police Rally Colorado is holding a Law Enforcement Appreciation Day event to "remind our children that those who put on a uniform to serve and protect our community deserve our respect and support," the release said. The event starts at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Douglas County Fairground, 500 Fairgrounds Drive, Castle Rock.

The Colorado Springs community is more supportive of law enforcement than in other areas of the country, Howard said. A citizen satisfaction survey routinely conducted typically returns with about a 90 percent positive rating.

But things can change in an instant, he said.

"All it takes is one explosive episode to taint the image of particular law enforcement or community," Howard said.

Howard thinks increasing manpower could help stave off issues. Right now, law enforcement officers are "outgunned" and "outmanned," he said.

The number of Colorado Springs officers patrolling streets hasn't increased in years, he said. With about 600 officers on payroll, according to Howard's estimate, there is about one city officer per 1,000 residents. It should be twice that many, he said.

Two rounds of recruits to the police academy scheduled this year aim to fill out lines, with 48 recruits sought for each class, the first of which started in January. But it will be a year or more before they're patrolling streets on their own, Howard said.

The El Paso County Sheriff's Office advertised openings in January, as has the Colorado State Patrol. Neither listed how many officers were needed.

"You just never know what you're going to get yourself into nowadays," Howard said. "(Officers) really, really have to watch their back."

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02-25-2016: Sixth Street Showdown
APD's Downtown Area Command contends with the unique pressures of the city's entertainment district
BY CHASE HOFFBERGER, FRI., FEB. 26, 2016

View the article on the Austin Chronicle website with images:
http://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2016-02-26/sixth-street-showdown/

Matthew Wallace wasn't planning on spending the night in jail, but shortly after 2:30am, on Friday, Nov. 6, that's where he found himself. Wallace and some friends, most visiting from San Antonio, were crossing Sixth Street after a night out enjoying Downtown Austin. Caught crossing against the light, Wallace and two others were arrested and sent to jail for a violation that usually results in a ticket.

Three-year veteran Daniel McCameron was the Austin Police officer who decided to arrest Wallace. McCameron wrote, in an arrest warrant filed that Friday morning, that a "Solid Red Hand" pedestrian signal was shining over Sixth Street as Wallace stepped into the crosswalk. McCameron "approached and asked Wallace to come forward." Wallace "refused," wrote McCam­eron, so "I approached Wallace on foot."

It was during McCameron's second "approach" toward Wallace that Rolando Ramiro turned on his camera. Ramiro had been crossing the street with Wallace. His video, which he posted to Facebook when he got home, begins by showing McCam­er­on pushing Wallace against the wall of a building. Wallace's friend Jeremy King can be seen in the video's background being physically restrained by two officers, identified later as 12-year veteran Brian Huckaby and 20-year veteran Richard R. Munoz. The video shows all three officers, as well as a few others assisting, simultaneously taking King and Wallace to the ground. The officers knee and strike Wallace and King with their hands, while commanding them to stop resisting. The video also shows Wallace and King's friend Lourdes Glen rushing over to King's side as he lies facedown in the street. An officer points at Glen and shouts: "Back up or you're going to jail." She moves left; it's not possible to tell from the video whether she also backs up. Officer Vanessa Jimenez grabs Glen by the arm and places her under arrest.

Wallace, King, and Glen were taken to Travis County Jail. King and Glen were released later in the morning. A prosecutor decided several hours in Travis County Jail was even punishment for jaywalking, a Class C misdemeanor that rarely leads to arrest. Wallace, who was charged with resisting arrest in addition to jaywalking, was kept until that evening. His attorney told the Chronicle that his case is yet to be processed through the District Attorney's intake division.

Seemingly everybody in Austin had seen the video by Friday's lunch break. At 2pm that day, APD released a statement saying they had "been made aware" of the incident and would review the officers' response to resistance, as well as the incident in general, to determine what led up to the events captured in the video, and whether the officers' actions were in compliance with department policy. The Austin Police Association's meet-and-confer agreements grant APD Chief Art Acevedo 180 days to consider disciplinary action, which in this case means a deadline of May 4. King, Wallace, and Glen all say that they've yet to be contacted by Internal Affairs.

The three are hoping that they will eventually. Given the opportunity, each would dispute the officer's description of events. They say they were already midway across the street when they were told to stop walking: Did the officers want them to stop dead in the roadway? According to Wallace, who spoke with the Chronicle shortly after the incident, he heard McCameron's commands and acknowledged them with King, but both agreed without consulting the officer that they could continue crossing the road. Six minutes after the incident began, the police conducted an informal interview with Ramiro, which was captured on his video. Ramiro said Wallace and King were both midway through the street when first told to stop walking. Ramiro also told the officer interviewing him that the pedestrian signal changed from "Stop" to "Walk" immediately after the group was told to stop walking and that either Wallace or King said "Man, fuck you, [indecipherable]" to the other before continuing. Both Wallace and King maintain that they were never asked for identification nor told they were under arrest. They remain puzzled as to how a petty misdemeanor sparked such an aggressive reaction from patrolling officers.

On Monday, Feb. 15, King and Glen filed suit in federal court alleging that Munoz, Huckaby, Jimenez, and Officer Gustave Gal­len­kamp used excessive force arresting them, and discriminated against King because of his race. (Both King and Wallace are black. Glen is Latina. Wallace was advised against filing suit because of his pending charges with the D.A.'s office.) The lawsuit also argues that Glen's arrest violates her right to free speech – questioning why King was being arrested.

"What happened here was outrageous," says attorney Brian McGiverin, who represents King and Glen. "Everybody here deserves better. They deserve a police department that abides by the Constitution."

A "Dirty" Job
When people think of resisting arrest in Austin, they're likely to think of Sixth Street. Last year alone, there were 230 Downtown arrests that included accusations that the arrestee resisted, according to numbers provided by APD. Those numbers have grown significantly since 2005, when only 99 people were handed the charge (see chart, below).

Search YouTube for the words "Austin Texas cop takedown" and there's a good chance that eight of the first 12 videos you'll see are of nighttime arrests Downtown. The officers assigned to APD's Downtown Area Command – DTAC, the patrol sector that runs from Lamar Boulevard east to Chicon Street, 12th Street south to Lady Bird Lake – have an unenviable job, comparable in many ways to patrolling New Orleans' French Quarter. They're responsible for keeping order among thousands and thousands of drunk Austinites and out-of-towners, in a rapidly expanding entertainment district that happens to contain the city's nexus of homeless resources.

Consider this: In 2005, Austin's entertainment sprawl had not yet reached East Austin and Rainey Street, and was just beginning to hit West Sixth, then a much more sedate stretch of beer bars than the scene it is today. A Chronicle story from last decade ("Sixth Street Blues," March 18, 2005) notes that Downtown patrol carried 103 full-time positions – including sergeants, corporals, and lieutenants – back then, when "Downtown patrol" stretched from I-35 to Lamar, and Dean Keeton to the lake. Today, DTAC supports 110 sworn full-time employment positions (FTEs), a difference of seven positions over 10 years.

Yet DTAC patrol has seen an unimaginable amount of growth in that time. Eight thousand new Downtown residents accompany 2,479 new condominiums, 4,353 apartment units, and 8,000 new hotel rooms. More than 1,500 of each are either in construction or planning stages, according to numbers provided by the Downtown Austin Alliance. An entertainment district once confined to Sixth Street's four blocks, the Warehouse District, and Red River Street's rock clubs now extends two miles east-to-west. The Greater Austin Crime Commis­sion estimates that 20,000-60,000 people go Downtown each weekend night.

Then there's the homeless population. Front Steps, the organization that operates the Austin Resource Cen­ter for the Home­less, did not respond to requests to confirm the number of individuals they serve. But the population that does live Down­town survives in a volatile environment, which has the potential to exacerbate the mental problems that landed some people on the street in the first place. APD says that 26% of DTAC calls concern the transient population. Of those, 39% lead to transient arrests. The listed victim is considered transient in 12% of the aforementioned calls. Assistant Chief Chris McIlvain, who oversees DTAC and Region 1, says APD can tweak those statistics either way by changing the degree to which it enforces certain ordinances, an option that's typically contingent on creating overtime shifts for officers. (The department is constantly threatening to exceed its overtime budget.)

The officers assigned to DTAC divide into shifts of 12 officers, though each shift throughout the department currently runs at a one vacancy minimum, meaning that in practice the DTAC shifts never consist of more than 11 officers. When officers are suspended, put on administrative duty, or need to go on family or medical leave, those shifts shrink even smaller – and therefore more reliant on overtime dollars to fill what's missing. On a typical weekend night in DTAC, APD deploys three shifts around the city, with a few on bikes, a few in cars, and the rest on walking beat. Come midnight, those officers assemble into three groups – DTAC calls them pods, for the way the officers arrange in a circle with their backs facing one another, so they can see fully around the area – stationed one-block-and-a-half from one another, along Sixth Street's four-block stretch of bars.

"What we have seen in the Downtown area: Any Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night has almost become a mini-special event," McIlvain tells the Chronicle. "We've grown and grown," extending to Rainey, West Sixth, and East Austin. "Sixth Street alone requires almost every foot patrol resource we can throw at it at the witching hour – midnight until 3am. That is very manpower-resource-intensive on those nights."

It's a constant refrain in civil service that you do the best you can with the resources you've been allotted. That's nowhere more evident than with DTAC police on weekends.

Bringing Order to Chaos
In January 2013, after considering that the Downtown beast had grown four heads, APD extracted its Downtown Area Com­mand from the larger Region 1 so that it could more accurately track what was happening within the area, and better allocate resources to the unique stretch of the city.

McIlvain was Region 1 commander in 2011. "What I quickly found was that DTAC was borrowing resources from those other areas at such a regular occurrence that it almost made sense," he says. "Why split these duties over three very time-intensive areas when DTAC could use all of those resources itself? The gentrification, the expansion, it just made sense to have a chain of command that could just focus on Downtown."

The chaotic street has yielded to a flexible form of patrol.

"We don't just say, 'Okay, you guys are walking, you guys are cars, and you guys are bikes,'" McIlvain continues. "It's a very fluid assignment based on what we're dealing with. On a busy, very congested night, you might take extras from cars and make sure more officers are on foot – or put them on bikes. If it's cold out and we don't have the foot traffic, you might have more cars out on the perimeter."

He says DTAC Commander Pat Cochran tries to keep at least four officers in cars at all times so that responses can be made around the other entertainment pockets within the area. On weekends that assignment typically falls on Metro Tactical Teams (street-level response teams that specialize in criminal and narcotic arrests) that are brought in on rotations from other regions. The department used to pull individual officers from the five surrounding regions to handle vehicle patrol, but found that communication breakdowns often popped up when the officer needed assistance – tough for your chain of command to help with anything Downtown when that chain of command's station is off Slaughter Lane. A switch came this last November.

APD deploys additional patrol through its mounted unit – two teams of a sergeant (or corporal) and four officers riding horseback from the department's Special Events Unit – to traverse Sixth Street every night. Officers consider the horses to be "force multipliers" in the area. They're able to break up any groundswell just by walking through.

There are constant groundswells around Sixth Street: outside the bar, in line for pizza, or simply standing in the street. It's a phenomenon I witnessed firsthand in early October when I shadowed a pod of officers between Toulouse and Bar 512 to see the commotion from their sight lines. The team of 11 had two officers on family leave and another out due to injury. Others were in on overtime.

Much of the evening's earlier hours are spent taking pictures with tourists and giving out directions to lost partiers. The job takes a while; APD shifts have officers out 10 hours at a time, no matter the region. DTAC officers get to know Sixth's regular players: bouncers, food truck owners, and transients. They point to teenagers they say sell baking soda masked as cocaine, and visit with one grown man wearing an ankle monitor, whom a few of the veteran officers used to arrest on drug busts throughout his youth. One officer who built a smartphone app with information on Downtown businesses got clever and convinced a homeless guy who often stands in the middle of Sixth Street holding a cardboard sign to let him run advertising for the app on the sign's blank backside.

Most of these officers learn to enjoy Sixth Street, but they can be hesitant going in. Part of that reticence has to do with the demands of the beat: They're on their feet for the full shift, and use of force is standard. It's their job to quell drunks, or bust homeless people when they sleep in doorways. There are thousands of people around them; they go to work expecting to break up fights.

"Almost every time, you know [you will] have to put your hands on someone," admits McIlvain. He adds that the department recently raised the threshold on Downtown officers for activating a Guidance Advisory Program, an early warning mitigation system employed when officers show signs of what the department calls "potential areas of concern," from six instances of response to resistance per year to nine. (Five officers exceeded the threshold in 2015, he says.) "You could go a whole shift in another part of the city; aside from putting handcuffs on them and taking them to jail, that would be the extent of your physical altercations. Downtown, you are in a scuffle and you've got this huge crowd around you. It's not just doing your job, it's doing your job in this environment."

Should that happen – should an officer put their hands on a civilian, whether to arrest them or just attempt to calm them down – it's become routine someone will film it.

"Five years ago when a fight broke out you saw the crowd move back and let [the officers] do their job," says McIlvain. "We're seeing the opposite now. You see the crowd close in; generally [because they want] to get a picture of what's going on. You got social media, cameras. You have people climbing on officers' backs to get the first photo. What used to take four officers responding to a disturbance is now going to take more." APD procedures currently send additional officers to arrest scenes on Sixth Street to establish space for the arresting officer to work.

Last fall, changes in DTAC working conditions led Austin Police Association Pres­ident Ken Casaday to take a tour of the local TV newscasts to talk about how the officers assigned to DTAC didn't want to work there any longer, and lament the process by which the chiefs' Fifth Floor has chosen to staff the area. To hear Casaday tell it, staffing Downtown – once the choice beat of patrolling officers – is now the bottom of the rung, with officers – often young officers just off their 15-month probationary period – getting assigned to work there against their wishes.

It's menial, he says, unless they've got to make a potentially violent arrest. (Another unofficial axiom of law enforcement is that response to resistance arrests will almost always appear overly violent.) Casaday has stressed that overexposure to the area can lead to work fatigue. But he says the process for getting disgruntled officers out of DTAC is tough. A patrol freeze brought on by the current staffing shortage (APD currently claims more than 130 FTE vacancies) keeps current regional patrol counts set. Both Casaday and McIlvain say reassignments are only being executed in extenuating circumstances.

Speaking for the department, McIlvain tells the Chronicle that Casaday's claims that officers don't want to work DTAC anymore are more likely representative of a few outlying instances. And he maintains that DTAC is not getting staffed with rookie cops. Only 27% of patrolling officers have been on the force for fewer than three years, he says, and 21% have been on for 3-6, leaving 52% of the officers as having six years of experience or more. McIlvain says the department would never staff DTAC with officers still on probation, but concedes that the area patrol is shifting younger. "Sen­ior­ity counts for something down here," he says. "We're not going to pull a 10-year officer [from another region] when a brand-new guy off probation who did good is available. There's no expectation that you have the same tenure."

One such example of the unique rigors on Sixth Street became evident shortly after 1:30am on the night that I went out. A report came in that multiple gunshots were fired around Seventh Street and Neches, between the ARCH and the Caritas building, which on weekends converts to a booking station and staging grounds for officers patrolling DTAC. The pod split up; half of the officers broke for the scene of the shooting, and found two shells but no assailant. (A suspected shooter was arrested later in the evening.) On our way back to Sixth Street, a young couple ran up to the officers upset about how one of the cops had pushed the boyfriend out of his way in his pursuit of the crime scene. The officer explained that they were on their way to a potential live shooting, apologized, but made clear that in this case his physicality was merely the cost of doing business.

While this was happening, the girlfriend had started an argument with a cop-watching activist she believed was getting in the way of her boyfriend's conversation with APD. I noticed upon hearing her complaints how close he was when filming the discussion. One of the officers speaking with the boyfriend asked for the activist to step back. He moved the prescribed distance back and shouted the words "Disturbance!" and "Unlawful!" through the remainder of the officer's interaction with the couple.

Cops Vs. Cop Watchers
The activist was Julian Reyes, a 47-year-old street artist who identifies as semi-homeless. He's a known figure among DTAC patrol, having first started cop watching in the summer of 2013 after an officer shot his dog outside of a South Austin storage facility Reyes rented. He currently has a civil case pending against the city and members of APD.

Reyes has been arrested for interfering with police activity, and for crossing against a light. Both times he was filming law enforcement with his camera. He says that he's routinely subject to intimidation and harassment by APD, whether by way of an officer putting hands on him or telling him to stop filming from a certain location already being occupied by other people.

Most cops associate Reyes with the Peace­ful Streets Project, the most visible cop-watching activist group in Austin; but Reyes considers himself more independent. He touts his connection to the homeless newspaper The Challenger Street Newspaper. Reyes believes in filming everything. In three years, he's captured thousands of hours of city business – a large portion of it uneventful – uploading it to one of his many YouTube channels. His most active channel is called Lizzardo Giganticus. Earlier that night on Sixth Street, shortly after assembling into a pod, one officer spotted Reyes filming from behind a nearby tree.

The topic of Peaceful Streets came up frequently that night. Most of the conversation concerned how many nights its membership has spent documenting menial police activity. "They never catch anything," say officers. PSP membership refutes this, saying it captures tiny infractions all the time. Members say it's only when a video captures the general public's attention that the department chooses to investigate.

Indeed, it was a February 2015 video from Peaceful Streets that got Officer Otho DuBoise in trouble. The 14-year veteran was working DTAC patrol on Feb. 15 when he saw Joseph Cuellar dance too close, he believed, to one of the mounted patrol units walking by. Video recorded by PSP member Richard Boland shows DuBoise approaching Cuellar from a distance, throwing him to the ground, and arresting him without Cuellar offering any resistance. (Cuellar was charged by APD with public intoxication, interfering with police animals, and resisting his arrest. The first two charges never made it to court. Downtown Community Court Administrator Peter Valdez told the Chronicle that the PI charge is still pending.) Nightly news caught wind; the Fifth Floor launched an investigation. Six months later, news emerged that DuBoise received a written reprimand, the lowest form of punishment passable through civil service – a citation not open to public records. He also received a promotion from detective to sergeant. The department declined to confirm whether the promotion was the direct result of any hearing.

Additionally, it was Antonio Buehler, PSP's founder, who captured footage of Detective Ricky Jones refusing to identify himself to Buehler, and making threatening statements about Buehler's First Amendment right to film police from a reasonable distance (which fluctuates based on discretion but often extends to 15 feet). Buehler posted the video to Peaceful Streets' YouTube page and filed a complaint against Jones. Jones received a 10-day suspension for violating APD Policy 302.2, Interaction With Community, and Policy 900.3.2, Acts Bringing Discredit Upon the Department.

"We have [caught things]," says Buehler. "The problem is, Internal Affairs is always like, 'Nope, we don't see anything here.' Even though everybody can just go to YouTube and say, 'That [officer] is assaulting someone.'"

Both the department and association routinely contest PSP's assertions. They say that civilian footage often fails to capture an incident's full context, and rarely depicts use-of-force arrests in an accurate manner. Casaday accuses the activists specifically of antagonizing and routinely interfering with the work of his patrolling officers. "There's a problem when you violate someone's space," he says. "Don't get in my face and start cursing and yelling at me. It's absolutely inappropriate and unprofessional. You can, but expect a bad reaction."

On June 7, 2015, after a Saturday night spent on Sixth Street, a gamer visiting town for X Games weekend posted a video to YouTube that shows nine DTAC patrol officers executing the arrest of a black male. (To reiterate McIlvain's assessment: A public desire to film fights has required more officers to secure arrest scenes.) In this case, officers called in the mounted patrol to help establish a safe working area.

Twenty seconds into the clip, one mounted officer making her way around the north side of the scene passes by a man who's holding his phone high in the air so that he can record the scene. The officer grabs his cell phone. Immediately after, another officer pepper sprays the person. 350,000 people watched the video in its first week online. The department acknowledged it and said an investigation was ongoing.

Veteran officers noted privately the manner in which the filmer who got pepper sprayed was holding his phone up in the air when it got snatched – an indication that it was closer to the mounted patrol officer's face than the YouTube video let on. In December, a source told the Chronicle that the mounted patrol officer received a written reprimand.

"Obvious Antagonism"
On Feb. 1, 2016, after complaints made to the Office of the Police Monitor alleging APD misconduct were found to be unsubstantiated by APD Internal Affairs, Reyes went before the Citizen Review Panel to voice his concerns in public forum. The panel heard testimony on three incidents: two that occurred on Feb. 15, 2015, and a third from June 2014.

The first complaint dealt with Boland's video. In addition to issues with DuBoise's actions, Reyes accused the mounted patrol officers of violating the department's responsibility to the community. Reyes said that the mounted units function as "battering rams" to break up crowds, and wondered aloud if their presence was truly necessary. He also mentioned how another officer, who declined to identify himself after the incident, told Boland: "Get a life."

The second derived from an incident later that same evening. Reyes alleged that DTAC Officer Thomas Griffin walked deliberately toward him while he was filming and forced him out of the way. Another officer, Aljoe Garibay, followed Griffin in his path. Garibay stood in front of Reyes and yelled at him to get out of the way. Reyes said the two officers intentionally targeted him and that certain DTAC officers routinely take extraordinary issue with activists who film police.

Reyes' final complaint detailed an incident last June in which he was arrested for jaywalking. He stated that he believed the arresting officer, Spencer Bradley, busted him for the rarely enforced ordinance because he was annoyed that Reyes videotaped an earlier detainment that he worked. Bradley confiscated Reyes' camcorder and stopped it from recording during Reyes' arrest. Reyes believed that both actions were retaliatory.

Because the three complaints were heard together, Reyes was given 30 minutes to speak before the volunteer panel. He pointed to other incidents in which he believed he was retaliated against, and times in which he considered officers to be antagonistic or rude. He spoke of how APD officers take an Internal Oath of Office and have a code of ethics by which they agreed to abide.

After his time was up, he ceded the floor to Boland, who spoke briefly and reiterated much of what Reyes had said. Boland's last remarks were clear: "Obviously, we return the hatred for them, but we're not under policy not to."

The panel broke into executive session after Boland's comments. One week later, the CRP issued a memo to Acevedo. The memo made clear that the panel agreed the officers involved in Reyes' three complaints did not violate APD policy; however, it also issued a recommendation to the chief.

"We urge you to review – and revise if necessary – if APD's policies and/or standard operating procedures with regards to staffing the Downtown Austin area. While not rising to the level of a policy violation, the obvious antagonism between some of the accused officers and the Peaceful Streets Project activist is troubling because we know that the weekly contact between APD personnel and PSP activists will continue. The situation seems ripe for a blowup and should be addressed.

"We ask you to consider whether APD command staff is asking too much of the officers assigned to the evening and night in the Downtown Austin area. We fear that over time, the repetitive use of force required to address the needs and demands of the homeless, the Downtown Austin businesses, the hordes of intoxicated individuals, the unruly crowds, and the activists may cause DTAC officers to, perhaps unknowingly and unintentionally, use an ever increasing amount of force. We also fear that over time, the constant stress of working amongst all these individuals will become unmanageable for DTAC officers. If either of those fears come to pass, our Downtown will be less safe for all involved.

"We ask you to consider whether other staffing models and crowd management tools – for instance: shorter DTAC tours before officers are rotated out into the other areas of the city and innovative 'softer' crowd control techniques that have been successfully used by other police departments – would better serve Austin's public safety and our frontline officers and supervisors."

Time for a Change?
Tensions have historically run high between the review panel, department, and the union, often due to disagreements over the CRP's recommendations to the chief on critical incidents. That's only one half of the CRP's job, however: to review and offer recommendations for APD's critical incidents. History has shown that neither department execs nor the rank-and-file see eye-to-eye with the folks appointed by the city manager to act as civic liaisons. (Certain CRP critics contest that the board shouldn't consider specific critical incidents at all.)

The other half of the job authorizes the panel to submit recommendations for review on departmental issues and patterns it believes could become harmful to both officers and the public. That's different. It's a bit more humanizing. It applies more basically to a situation like the one currently relevant to Downtown.

Casaday tells the Chronicle that he was happy to see the panel address the issue via memo. He says he asked the department to make it possible for officers to get transferred out of DTAC once they've been there for two years, but says staffing shortages and trouble keeping patrol numbers level throughout the city have made adjustments like that more difficult. He says that Acevedo has been more diligent of late responding to officers who say they need out of Downtown.

"[Right now] the only way to identify the problem is if the officer acts out," he says. "Maybe [that officer's] fuse is a little short because he's been down there too long. I know some people who have been down there for five years; they love it. They love that area. But not everybody's meant for that job."

Police Monitor Margo Frasier reports the chief met with the CRP in early February to discuss the DTAC region. "I appreciate [the CRP's] frustration," she says. "I have a great respect for the individuals who serve on the panel. I think they're dedicated. I watch them in action. I think they take their job seriously and don't make recommendations willy nilly. I think they make recommendations with the eye on improving police relations with the community."

Acevedo told the Chronicle last Thurs­day that his executive staff and DTAC command were considering an analysis and response to the panel's recommendations and expected a finalized version early this week. On Tuesday (Feb. 23), Cochran reported that a draft was sent to Internal Affairs for review. Acevedo told the Chronicle the memorandum was still in draft; he had not had the chance to review Cochran's response.

 

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02-16-2016: APA: Police staffing, training factors in fatal shooting of teen

Jenni Lee and KVUE Staff 5:56 PM. CST February 16, 2016

(For video - visit the following link)

AUSTIN -- In a press conference Tuesday, the Austin Police Association president cited staffing and training as issues that may have led to an officer fatally shooting 17-year-old David Joseph last week.

Flanked by police union advocates, the Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday said there has been a rush to judgment from Chief Art Acevedo about one of their own: senior patrol officer Geoffrey Freeman. Freeman shot and killed Joseph in a Northeast Austin neighborhood last week.

"It was absolutely inappropriate," Casaday said.

APA is calling for an independent audit of the Austin Police Department's patrol staffing. Casaday noted that APD is 145 officers short. He also said that the department must enhance defense tactics training for APD patrol officers.

"We've gone to this Administration and asked them over and over and over to deal with the problem before a tragedy occurs, nothing ever happened… After the shots came, I believe it was still about a little over three minutes before his nearest backup came,” said Casaday.

In regard to APD's investigation of the shooting, Casaday said that the department is rushing to judgment, according to KVUE reporter Tony Plohetski. Casaday also stated that he is disappointed with APD Chief Art Acevedo and Mayor Steve Adler for holding a press conference with protesters and members of Black Lives Matter.

Freeman's attorney Grant Goodwin said his client was following his training when he shot and killed Joseph.

"The speed at which the situation developed, the nature of the call, definitely led to the situation which Officer Freeman acted upon appropriately in carrying out what he had to do in the situation where he was in fear of not going home to his family," said Goodwin.

Other officers who knew Freeman prior to joining the department defended his character.

Chandra Erving, president of the Texas Peace Officers Association, said the shooting death of Joseph is a tragedy, adding that no officer wakes up with the intention to shoot and kill anyone.

"So the same person I knew in the military before I retired is the same person that I know here on the force," Erving said.

"He used to work as a librarian as well. He's a very calming individual, he thinks before he reacts," said Anthony Nelson, vice president of the APA and attended Crockett High School with Freeman.

Freeman's attorney said his client is expected before internal affairs investigators Wednesday. Beside the criminal investigation, this one will see if Freeman broke any department policies.

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo responded to the APA's remarks late Tuesday afternoon, saying "I am aware of the comments made by the Austin Police Association. While I respect their views, I will not be commenting any further. As stated last week, our focus is on a complete and impartial investigation, which we owe to both the Joseph and Freeman families, as well as the Austin community."
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02-11-2016: APD & Black Lives Matter press conference
By: Elizabeth Saab

(For video - visit the following link)
http://www.fox7austin.com/news/local-news/89055612-story

POSTED:FEB 11 2016 06:58PM CST
UPDATED:FEB 11 2016 10:03PM CST

The Chief of Police joined members of "Black Lives Matter" and other activists to talk more about Monday's officer involved shooting of David Joseph. He clarified some of the events surrounding what happened.

It's the first we are hearing about the details and timeline of the ongoing investigation.

While there are still a lot of unknowns as to why that officer shot David Joseph, what we do know is that he was not lying on the road.

Chief Art Acevedo says he is on police video charging at Officer Freeman before shots were fired. That video is part of the ongoing investigation.

Chief Acevedo also acknowledged the ongoing question of why Officer Freeman shot Joseph instead of tasering him. That is being reviewed in the ongoing investigation as well.

We also learned that Joseph had been in contact with some people on Sunday but no 911 calls were made. There were also several other incidents on Monday morning, but those weren't reported either.

The 911 calls didn't start coming in until a shot time before officers made contact with Joseph.

Though there is a forty-five day window that police can take for the investigation, Acevedo says he expects it to wrap in about thirty days. That is even if the toxicology results aren't back yet.

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02-11-2016: Police union president defends use of deadly force

http://www.kvue.com/story/news/local/2016/02/10/police-union-president-defends-use-deadly-force/80204168/

Police union president defends use of deadly force

Police union president defends use of deadly force

Jenni Lee, KVUE 7:32 p.m. CST February 10, 2016

AUSTIN – In the wake of Monday’s officer-involved shooting, Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday said many people don’t understand how dangerous an encounter can be or escalate for a police officer even with a naked, unarmed person.

Casaday pointed to a video that captured a 2005 incident in East Austin with Officer Jamie Harver as an example. Police dash cam footage showed Harver responding to a naked man trying to break into an Austin daycare.

She yelled "Sir" a few times to get his attention. When he refused to comply, she used her Taser a couple of times. A few seconds passed before the man gets up, pulls the taser prongs out of his skin, and continues trying to break into the daycare.

He quickly turned his attention to the officer and starts hitting her, trying to take her gun.

Casaday hoped this video will give people a better idea of how situations can quickly get out of control.

"A person's naked, running around the street, can kill you. They can take your gun, take your taser because they have an unhuman strength," said Casaday.

Austin police haven’t said if David Joseph, the 17-year-old who was shot and killed Monday, was on any medications. The toxicology reports will take weeks to process. Casaday said there was no doubt that Joseph was mentally altered.

"Running around naked, chasing people, threatening people, that's not your normal everyday activity," said Casaday.

Casaday said he has dealt and fought with many suspects who were either mentally altered or on drugs. He said the latter can make some stronger especially if they're on PCP, bath salts, or meth. He also said certain drugs create high body temperatures and that's why clothes are taken off.

Others disagreed with the approach of confronting an aggressive person.

"You don't confront them, you use that aggression against them," said Nelson Linder, president of the local NAACP chapter.

Linder said he thinks police should contain before confronting subjects. He said Monday's situation is different. He believes the officer panicked. But he thinks police need to change how they approach the mentally ill or those on drugs.

"The case on Monday, this kid was laying down, he was not that aggressive or hurting anybody. He only became aggressive when he was confronted...The officer clearly panicked so I think he was unprepared for what he saw. Why not contain the situation, get back up, then engage when you have to," said Linder.

Casaday said they don't call mental health officers until they get the person under control. He also said he hopes the community will wait for the results of the investigation before calling for any action.

The officer who shot and killed Joseph, Senior Police Officer Jeffrey Freeman, has been with the Austin Police department ten and a half years. Police said he has a clean internal affairs record and is an Iraqi war veteran. He is on paid administrative leave as is standard protocol while investigators look into the shooting.

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02-10-2016: Austin Police Association answers criticisms in David Joseph shooting

By Chris Sadeghi
Published: February 10, 2016, 5:35 pm Updated: February 10, 2016, 6:48 pm

(Videos of past examples of suspects being tased can be viewed here with the following article)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Over the last two days, Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday has heard the criticisms and the questions since an officer shot and killed a teenager on Monday morning.

“Why not use a taser?”

“Why shoot a naked and obviously unarmed teenager?”

His answers to those questions come in the form of a video which shows a similar situation.

“Just because someone is naked and in the street does not mean that they are not a danger to someone. I would tell you they are an extreme danger,” said Casaday.

Casaday points to a 2005 dash camera video as an example of why a stun gun doesn’t always subdue the person in question.
In the video, an Austin police officer is responding to a daycare center where a naked man is trying to barge in through the front door. After shouting at the man, she deploys a Taser to bring him to the ground. As he rolls around on the ground, the officer continues to cycle the Taser until the man pulls the prongs out of his back and continues to try and bust down the door. A short time later, he walks towards the officer, punching her, knocking her to the ground, and appears to try and take something from her, but seconds later, police backup arrive. Nobody died, but Casaday says it very easily could have ended in the death of an officer.

“If that officer had not been back there to back up this female officer, the probability of him killing her is high,” said Casaday.
After backup arrives, the man can be seen chasing after female onlookers who were in the area watching the incident unfold before finally being tased again and handcuffed.

Casaday said the difference between using a stun gun or a gun depends on the perception of the officer who is expected to ask “objectively reasonable.”
Casaday talked briefly about Geoffrey Freeman’s background, telling KXAN he has been an officer with the Austin Police Department for 10 years, but previously served his country in Iraq and worked in administration for the Austin library system. Freeman graduated from Crockett High School where he played football and is described as a “fantastic person” according to Casaday.

“Everything I have heard is that he has had a stellar career at the Austin Police Department.”

“Just because someone is naked and in the street does not mean that they are not a danger to someone.” —APA President Ken Casaday

An internal affairs investigation into the shooting has begun and although Casaday could not comment about the specifics, he did say Freeman gave verbal warnings to deescalate the situation before shooting and killing 17-year-old David Josesh. Criticisms regarding how police handled the shooting given Joseph’s age are unfair in Casaday’s eyes.

“I have seen 17 year olds that make me look like a runt,” said the 6’3, 285 pound Casaday. “We saw the football pictures [Joseph’s] family released, that’s an adult man.”

Other scrutiny has come from the Texas Civil Rights Project and the NAACP. Casaday believes the criticism for how the officer did his job should wait until details are revealed in the investigation.
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02-10-2016: Court rejects Brandon Daniel appeal in killing of police officer
Updated: 12:52 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016 | Posted: 10:50 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016

By Chuck Lindell - American-Statesman Staff

The state’s highest criminal court Wednesday upheld the conviction and death sentence for Brandon Daniel in the 2012 shooting death of an Austin police officer.

A unanimous Court of Criminal Appeals rejected three points of error raised by Daniel’s lawyer in his direct appeal, the first of two appellate court reviews granted to death row inmates.

Daniel, 28, shot and killed Austin police officer Jaime Padron on April 6, 2012, as the two struggled on the floor of a Wal-Mart near Interstate 35 and East Parmer Lane in North Austin. Padron, a Marine veteran and father of two girls, had been responding to complaints from the store’s employees about a possibly intoxicated shoplifter.

Daniel was quickly arrested, and police found a magazine containing six hollow-point bullets in his pocket and $57 worth of food, alcohol and other store items in his backpack.

Jurors deliberated for an hour before finding Daniel guilty of capital murder in February 2014, and they then needed just eight hours of discussion before sentencing the former software engineer to die.

Writing for the court, Judge Larry Meyers rejected the defense claim that jurors weren’t presented enough evidence to find that Daniel posed a future danger for violence — a required determination for a death sentence — because he had no history of violence and was intoxicated, impaired by Xanax, suffering from depression and had acted without forethought in killing Padron.

“We disagree,” Meyers wrote. “The evidence showed that (Daniel) went to the Wal-Mart intending to shoplift and that he brought a loaded gun” because he had foreseen the possibility of police officers preventing him from leaving the store.

Before the shooting, Daniel demonstrated an escalating pattern of disrespect for the law, Meyers said, noting that he had led Colorado police on a dangerous chase on his motorcycle in 2007. After the shooting, Daniel displayed a lack of remorse, the judge wrote.

“He smiled and laughed after killing Padron, took a bow and raised his fist when inmates applauded him after watching news coverage of his case, and bragged to his mother that he was ‘at the top’ of the ‘prison pecking order’ because of the crime that he had committed. He also discussed plans to escape prison and profit from his crime.” Meyers said.

The appeals court also rejected Daniel’s claims that his trial lawyers weren’t allowed to properly question an expert witness for the prosecution about her qualifications and that the trial judge improperly allowed a juror to join the panel.

A North Austin elementary school has been named for Padron, 40, who had been an Austin police officer for three years after 14 years with the San Angelo Police Department.

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02-10-2016: Dallas police chief faults staffing shortage for decline in specialized units, violent crime increase

Tristan Hallman

Dallas Police Chief David Brown presented a bleak picture Monday for members of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee.

Violent crime is up more than 25 percent so far this year. Specialized unit staffing is down. Property crime is just flat. And while gang offenses are down on paper, it’s probably because the gang unit is now too small to track the numbers accurately.

Brown said all those statistics come back to one bigger number: 200 fewer officers than when he took the job in 2010.

“I’ve been trying to explain, you trade off when you have limited officers,” Brown said.

The chief said specialized units have suffered in recent years because of limited resources.

“If you were in a traffic unit, or a gang unit, or SWAT, you took a hit with less people,” he said.

The traffic unit recently had its own turmoil. After a WFAA-TV (Channel 8) report noted the decline in DWI arrests, Brown shifted 18 traffic cops to nighttime DWI enforcement. But now the department doesn’t have daytime traffic investigators in the traffic unit.

Brown said those are the choices he has to make.

“We’re robbing Peter to pay Paul,” Brown said. “And we’re robbing Peter and Paul some days.”

The gang stats given to council members showed a marked decline last year. While violent crime was up last year, somehow fewer gang offenses were recorded.

Police officials have also previously claimed that their low homicide rate is because the city doesn’t have the same gang problems as other cities.

Council member Sandy Greyson saw that her district went to just four recorded gang offenses in 2015 after recording 201 in 2013.

“Those numbers are striking to me,” Greyson said.

Brown said the staffing shortage on the gang unit — which targets gang activity, gathers intelligence on gang members and tracks the offenses — could explain the drop in reporting.

Committee Vice Chairman Adam McGough said he has trouble making sense of Brown’s explanations about his management of resources.

“It sounds like you’re reducing those specialized units so you have more in patrol to reduce response times,” he said. “Yet our response times are going up.”

Brown said if response times issues persist, the chief said he may have to eliminate some specialized units all together and focus on patrol.

Response times and violent crime increases have been a bugbear for Brown in recent months. Brown blamed robberies on something that is mostly out of a local law enforcement official’s hands: a robust black market for stolen electronics, such as smart phones. Brown also noted that violent crime is still significantly lower than it was a decade ago.

For now, Brown is relaunching a program that puts detectives and officers in non-patrol jobs back on the street for two weeks at a time.

Council members also pressed Brown on whether more could be done to halt quality of life issues.

Committee chairman Adam Medrano complimented Brown on the crackdown on panhandlers downtown, which has resulted in more than 100 arrests in the first week. And other council members said they want police help to deal with panhandling, homelessness, drug dealing and other lower level crime in their districts.

Brown said enforcing criminal trespass laws could be one way to put a dent in robbery numbers.

But he cautioned — while not ruling it out — that pushing for more of a more aggressive policing strategy would make Dallas an exception.

“Most cities are backing away from aggressive low-level law enforcement activities,” Brown said. “We would have to be a leader in this area to become more aggressive.”

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12-27-2015: 2015 in Review: Celebrating 6 police heroes who saved lives
Here are some selected examples of people who are with their families this Christmas because of the courage and decisive action of American police officers

Dec 27, 2015

When police officers nationwide find someone in deadly peril they act time and time again in a manner that demonstrates that all lives matter to them, even over their own. Here are some selected examples of people who are with their families this Christmas because of the courage and decisive action of American police officers.

In December 2014 — technically last year but too late to be included in 2014’s edition of this annual article and most certainly worthy of mention — an Austin (Tex.) Mounted Officer named Adam Johnson heard shots as he was stabling two horses.

Homegrown terrorist Steven McQuilliams was armed with a rifle and was firing at a Federal Court House, the Austin Police Department, and the Mexican Consulate. He managed to fire 200 rounds before Sergeant Johnson — who was still holding the reigns of the horses — spotted him. Johnson drew and fired one shot while holding his duty weapon with only his strong hand. He instantly dropped the shooter, who was 104 yards away.

It is impossible to determine how many lives were saved by Sergeant Johnson’s incredibly difficult shot. The follow-up investigation revealed documents and maps in McQuilliams’ possession in which he had marked 34 intended targets, including two churches. The innocent human beings who occupy these targets on a daily basis are enjoying Christmas this year quite possibly thanks to Sergeant Johnson’s 312-foot shot.

In March 2015, Sergeant Joe Hudson of the Griffin (Ga.) Police Department arrived at the scene of a fire, where a woman reported that her three-year-old grandson was still inside the burning house. Fire-rescue was not on scene and the smoke and fire emanating from the house suggested the child – if still alive – could not survive much longer. Sergeant Hudson disregarded his own safety and entered the house. After 60 tense seconds, Hudson exited with the child safe in his arms.

During an interview after his heroic actions Hudson said simply, “…there is so much negativity, it felt good that day. I felt good when I went home.”

In May 2015, a Garland (Tex.) police officer who has requested his name not be released stopped terrorists Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, who had intended an attack on the Curtis Culwell Center. The two armed men drove up to the entrance, which was blocked by a squad, and exited their vehicle.

This happened to be the post of a Garland PD traffic officer working security for the event. He exited his squad and joined the gun fight started by these two wannabe-mass-murderers. The rifle-toting terrorists would kill no one on this day because they ambushed the wrong officer. He instantly engaged and killed both terrorists in a gun fight that was over in 15 seconds.

ISIS later claimed responsibility, identifying Simpson and Soofi as soldiers of the Caliphate. Their targets were 200 cartoonists and the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

In October 2015, Cleveland Police Officer David Muniz responded to a domestic disturbance with other officers at which 64-year-old Theodore Johnson was drinking and waving a gun around. As Muniz arrived, the suspect suddenly appeared and shot the officer in the chest. Thankfully, the bullet was stopped by Muniz’s vest.

Amazingly, Muniz went to extraordinary lengths to save Johnson from himself. As expected, Muniz leveled his duty weapon at Johnson. Johnson still held the gun he had just shot Muniz with down at his side. Instead of shooting, Muniz declared, “We don’t want to kill you. Drop the gun. You need some help. I know you shot me, but we’re not going to shoot you.”

Sadly, Johnson did not possess Muniz’s restraint. Instead, he shouted angrily toward the officers and raised his gun to fire again, but this time he was shot by the officers on scene. The lives saved by these officers’ actions on this night were their own.

Also in October 2015, Oklahoma City Police Officer Sergeant Jacob Cole was at the scene of a jumper on the I-35 bridge. Cole tried to calm the subject as he precariously risked his own life to inch closer and closer to the despondent man. As Cole got within reach, the man jumped.

As he fell, Cole snatched the suspect’s shirt and held tight. Bystanders breathlessly watched the jumper dangle, momentarily suspended above imminent death. The only thing saving him was the determined grasp of Sergeant Cole. Cole held tight until other officers arrived to assist him in pulling the man back onto the bridge. Pure muscle and grit won the day.

In October once again, Montgomery County (Md.) Police Officer James Herman was on his way home at the end of his shift when a driver spotted his squad and pulled up to it. A frantic grandmother reported her nine-month-old granddaughter was not breathing and was unresponsive.

Herman immediately began CPR on the child and an off-duty fireman stopped to lend a hand. The child, who was breathless and cyanotic, was brought back to life. Little Kenzie was discovered to have a heart defect. Thanks to Officer Herman, she survived.

Protecting Life
The selfless actions of all of these officers — and so many others, too many to mention here — prove that we must believe there is good in the world, and that American police officers are a force for good in the world. Here’s to these wonderful “Knights of Christmas.”

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12-03-2015: Austin Police Association says ARCH should be moved from downtown

http://www.fox7austin.com/news/local-news/55395036-story

By Casey Claiborne
POSTED:DEC 02 2015 09:18PM CST
UPDATED:DEC 02 2015 09:20PM CST
It's a familiar sight: police lights at the ARCH.

Austin Police documents say on Monday afternoon, 27-year-old Westly Barnes told a man to get away from his girlfriend. Then he pulled a gun out and shot that man three times.

Police chased Barnes and arrested him after finding him under a car nearby. The victim was taken to the hospital.

Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday says between the K-2 calls, the cocaine calls and the gunplay in that area, a lot of APD resources are spent there.

Casaday says it's time for the ARCH to be moved away from downtown.

"Those people deserve better. We've put them in a position where they're surrounded by liquor stores, crack dealers, the 6th Street entertainment district that...is not good for people in that condition," Casaday said.

Bob Woody who has owned bars and restaurants downtown for the past 32 years also wants to see it moved.

"We did not have the aggression we have with the panhandling and the violence," he said.

According to APD, the number of crimes committed by homeless people in Austin each year are in the thousands.

But they actually appear to be on the decline.
2013: 7,989
2014: 7,941
2015: 6,391 (as of early November)

Mayor Pro-Tem Kathie Tovo believes many of the homeless in the area are victim to crime instead of causing it. She says the ARCH should stay.

"Moving the homeless shelter, moving the ARCH from our downtown is not going to be the solution to housing, it's not going to be the solution to crime in our downtown. These are complicated problems and they require careful analysis," Tovo said.

Woody says wherever the ARCH is moved to, it should have more of a campus format.

"It needs to accept the homeless, it needs to accept the service providers. If you deny the service providers the ability to go there, then these homeless are going to continue to come back for these services," Woody said.

"It needs to be a place that maybe we could fence in and keep the bad people out and keep the people that really need the help in," Casaday said.

The first phone call I made on this story today was to Front Steps. They operate the ARCH. I asked Executive Director Mitchell Gibbs if he could do a quick interview on how they screen their clients for guns and keep the place safe from crime in general. His response? Not interested. And he was keen to end our conversation. The Austin Police Association President says Front Steps doesn't cooperate with police either.

"It's been a constant problem for our department, our missing persons unit, our sex crimes unit. Trying to get them to cooperate with our investigations. And if we're going to spend our tax dollars and our time down there trying to make the ARCH a safer place, then they need to cooperate," Casaday said.

Salvation Army was more helpful on this story than Front Steps. They issued this statement:

"The Salvation Army serves a vital need for the most vulnerable populations in our community. The safety of our clients and staff is of the highest priority in and around all Salvation Army facilities.

Along with all of our downtown neighbors, we continue to have grave concerns about criminal activity in the area. Our clients come to us in times of deep distress and the concern of becoming a victim of crime adds to their trauma.

We are working closely with other service providers, the City of Austin and the Austin Police Department to try to improve the situation.

Locally thousands of people receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through the broadest array of social services. These range from providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, rehabilitation for the addicted, clothing and shelter to those experiencing homelessness and case management to help people move from crisis to self-sufficiency." - Jan Gunter, Salvation Army

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