Tuesday, July 12, 2016
National events create new urgency over APD Body Camera policy
"Yet the righteous will hold to his way,
And he who has clean hands will be stronger and stronger."
For obvious reasons, we haven't commented on last week's events in Baton Rouge, Minnesota, and Dallas. Suffice to say that it's an awful situation and that we pray for justice, peace, and sanity to prevail. That being said, those events illustrate the importance of an issue currently weaving it's way through the city bureaucracy.
Two months ago, the APD bureaucracy attempted to sneak a policy through council that would have allowed APD to withhold body camera footage at will. This policy was to be accompanied by a $12 MILLION contract with a company with a terrible reputation. Three weeks ago, council approved the contract but kicked the final public disclosure policy back to the bureaucracy for one final examination.
So the bad news is that the contract is a done deal, but the good news is that there's still an opportunity to craft a policy that can retain public confidence in the event that (God forbid) a tragedy similar to any of the events of last week occurs in Austin.
The APD bureaucracy, starting with Chief Acevedo, needs to recognize that heavy-handed stonewalling makes both officers and the general public less safe.
The relationship between APD and the community isn't as bad as some other places, but it isn't great either. Our fervent prayer is to avoid this type of incident in Austin. Nevertheless, prudence suggests preparing for the worst.
And the only way to be prepared in the event, God forbid, that the worst happens is to lay a foundation of transparency now.
As we said following the last council meeting: "Council will rue this day whenever the inevitable dispute between an officer and a citizen provokes outrage that this policy proves insufficient to quell."