AUSTIN, Texas — The City of Austin and the Austin Police Association (APA) are at odds over contracts.
On Dec. 1, the APA said on Twitter that the City and the city manager have turned on Austin Police Department officers as they disagree about police oversight.
"We created the most robust oversight system in the state, still wasn't good enough," the APA tweeted, adding that City Manager Spencer Cronk "wants to weaponize a system that makes officers political pawns."
The APA concluded by saying that it "continues to work while the city walks away."
Later, in a statement to KVUE, the City said police oversight was never on the table in contract negotiations. The City said from the beginning, oversight was going to be removed from the contract and that the plan has always been to make oversight part of a separate program.
Read the City's full statement below:
“The parties reached a setback in negotiations today [Dec. 1] regarding whether police oversight should be separated from the union contract. The City negotiating team has been clear from the beginning that oversight must be removed from the contract. The City is willing to continue to negotiate with the union over pay and conditions of employment, if the Association is willing to continue discussions on removal of the police oversight provisions from the contract. Ultimately, our community members expect and deserve transparency and accountability in policing and we fully intend to make that happen through a combination of City ordinance and a responsible labor agreement.
“The City Manager is confident that the parties will come to an agreement on a sound labor contract, which will be key to recruiting and retaining the top-quality police officers we need to keep our community safe, and to building the community-focused, equity-oriented police department to which we’re committed.”
The City and the APA have been in contract negotiations since the end of September. Around that time, APA leaders told KVUE that going out of contract would case major problems for the police department, including making staffing shortages worse. The APA said the APD could have to temporarily suspend some police units, which could cause a mass retirement of officers.
The APA and the City have until the end of March to reach an agreement.
The APA released the following statement on Friday:
"The Austin Police Association believes that being under contract with the City is in the best interest of the citizens of Austin, the City of Austin, the Austin Police Department and our officers. We remain open and willing to bargain towards a contract is provides fair working conditions, fair wages and due process protections for our officers while working towards a middle ground on issues important to the City. We look forward to getting back to the table to continue negotiations."