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Former APD Chief Acevedo is returning to Austin to oversee police

Art Acevedo, seen here in 2017, left his job as head of the Austin Police Department in 2016 to go to Houston. He later became police chief in Miami.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon
KUT News
Art Acevedo, seen here in 2017, left his job as head of the Austin Police Department in 2016. Since then, he's been in Houston, Miami and Colorado.

Former Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo will take a new position created to oversee the police department, a City of Austin memo shared with KUT confirms.

The news was first reported by the Austin American-Statesman.

Acevedo told KUT he is excited to return to Austin in this new role focusing on the police department.

"I look forward to being an asset, a resource and an advisor in this new role," he said. "There is a brand new slate of players that we can start fresh, and I think there is a collective desire to get everything on track, and so I'm hoping that I can help with that."

City officials confirmed he will be paid $271,000 and he'll be on the job by the end of January.

Acevedo served as Austin's chief of police from 2007 to 2016. He left to become Houston’s police chief. Since then, he’s worked in Miami and Colorado, and even spent some time as an on-air analyst for CNN.

He has been serving as interim police chief for Aurora, a suburb outside Denver, for the last 13 months.

In the memo to council members, interim City Manager Jesús Garza said there are challenges facing the Austin Police Department and that he believes "additional resources are needed to better support the department, our interim police chief and her management team to ensure success."

Mayor Kirk Watson in an emailed statement said he supports the decision.

"Art Acevedo brings a wealth of experience and a deep understanding of the challenges facing APD," he said. "I’m hopeful he’ll be able to provide needed support for the department and help us to strengthen the relationship between City Hall and APD as well as with the community.”

The decision was seemingly made without community or council input.

In a tweet Friday, Council Member Vanessa Fuentes said “I was surprised to learn, just a few hours ago, about Art Acevedo's appointment as Interim Assistant City Manager. I hope Acevedo understands our community’s commitment to robust police oversight, accountability, and transparency.”

Council Members Paige Ellis, Alison Alter and Chito Vela also expressed concerns with Acevedo's sudden hiring.

Ellis told KUT she felt this was the bad move and a step in the wrong direction. She highlighted the fact that while Acevedo was police chief hundreds of rape kits went untested.

"There are just other things that we've had to clean up as a city council," Ellis said. "We appreciate officers coming with us to make sure that this work is happening and I'm just worried that we are falling back and we're not moving forward.

Alter called it a slap in the face for the survivors, advocates and others who have worked to make changes in the system around sexual assault.

"I am very fearful that this appointment is a step backwards," Alter said. "Not just in time but really pulls the rug out from under the work that many people have been doing to rebuild trust in our community."

This is not the first time interim City Manager Jesús Garza has made a change without the input of the council or the community.

Most recently, in September he named interim Director Gail McCant to run the Office of Police Oversight after promising a national search and without community or council input.

The city and the police department have been in a stalemate over a long-term police labor contract, which expired in 2023. The city approved a resolution on Thursday that extends benefits to police officers while the contract is expired. There are currently more than 350 vacancies within the department.

The police department has also been without an official chief for several months. Former chief Joseph Chacon retired from the position in September. Robin Henderson has served as interim chief since.

Garza’s memo outlines several initiatives Acevedo is expected to oversee, including creating new recruiting strategies, reviewing operations for patrol staffing models, and improving police academy courses and training.

Luz Moreno-Lozano is the Austin City Hall reporter at KUT. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on X @LuzMorenoLozano.
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