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Without A Police Contract, Austin's Citizens Review Panel Is Suspended

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon

The City of Austin is suspending its Citizens Review Panel, leaving police with less public oversight – at least for now. The move ends 17 years of volunteer panel members weighing in on complaints from the public about Austin police officers.

Under the city's last labor contract with Austin police officers, members of the review panel had access to internal APD documents even before investigations of complaints were complete. That contract expired in December, and the Austin City Council unanimously rejected a new one.

With negotiations in limbo, police officers are operating under a standard State of Texas civil service law, which does not allow citizen access to internal police documents.

"In light of these factors, and pending future direction from the Council concerning labor relations at APD, I am suspending all further operations of the CRP at this time," interim City Manager Elaine Hart wrote in a memo to the mayor and City Council members. "In taking this action, I wish to acknowledge with deep gratitude the work of the current CRP members."

The Austin Police Association said it anticipates resuming contract negotiations after the new city manager, Spencer Cronk, starts work next month.

Trey Shaar is an All Things Considered producer, reporter and host. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @treyshaar.
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