AUSTIN, Texas — The Austin Justice Coalition (AJC) invited the community to a press conference at the Austin Energy Headquarters preceding the Austin Police Department's contract negotiation session on Monday.
The AJC was joined by fellow advocacy groups Texas Fair Defense Project, Texas Center for Justice and Equity and ACLU of Texas, as well as community members. AJC said the purpose of the event was to "to build awareness about the ongoing negotiations and the opportunity to drastically impact civilian oversight, police accountability and transparency."
The press conference kicked off at 9:30 a.m. before negotiations started.
"We understand that hundreds of complaints were put in about police treatment of protesters. We understand that the City have given out more than $13 million in settlements. But at the same time, the City has disciplined zero officers for any of the conduct that occurred during the protest," said Chris Harris with the Austin Justice Coalition at the conference.
According to the AJC, the current contract between the City of Austin and the Austin Police Association keeps police records secret. The AJC claims the contract prevents holding officers accountable, and even when an officer receives discipline, it allows them to be hired and promoted.
"On May 2, the Austin Police Association will respond to the City’s significant proposals for oversight and to end the practice of hiding misconduct in a hidden, confidential file," Emily Gerrick, policy director at the Texas Fair Defense Project, said in a statement. "This would open access to information to the public. There is no legitimate reason for the Austin Police Association to oppose this reasonable level of transparency."
Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday provided the following statement: "The Austin Police Association and the City of Austin have been engaged in discussions both independently and together to review and improve the existing contract. Both sides are actively working and will continue to work towards a mutually beneficial contract."
"It's taken them five months to give us their first offer, and they are upset that we did not respond within the day with a counteroffer. So, that entitlement and arrogance is shocking, honestly," said Selena Xie, president of the Austin EMS Association.
Austin's Public Safety Commission will hold a meeting at the City Hall Boards and Commissions Room Monday at 4 p.m. One of the topics of discussion will include labor negotiation updates and EMS pay.
Public comment will be allowed in-person or remotely by telephone. Speakers may only register to speak on an item once either in-person or remotely and will be allowed up to three minutes to provide their comments.
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