Austin should have a new police monitor next month. It’s a civilian position responsible for promoting good relations between the police department and the public. The police monitor’s office, created in 2002, also takes complaints about officers.
Six semifinalists are interviewing for the position today.
Cliff Brown has held the job for the past four years. He’s leaving the position next month to become a state district judge. Brown says the relationship between the police monitor’s office and APD has evolved for the better over the years.
“Just like in any other symbiotic relationship I think there has to be growth and there has to be mutual respect and I think we’ve grown the relationship and I feel good about that. Do we always agree? No, but I do think that we respect one another and I think that’s the most important thing,” Brown told KUT News.
The police monitor’s office provides independent oversight in cases involving an officer’s use of force and officer-involved shootings, such as the high-profile Nathaniel Sanders shooting in May 2009.
NAACP Austin president Nelson Linder had a positive review of Brown’s tenure. But Linder thinks Police Chief Art Acevedo needs to do a better job of following the recommendations coming out of the police monitor’s office.
“You can give the best recommendation but if they don’t take it seriously, look what we have. We have a disaster. I think there has to be more support for the monitor’s office and also you have to embrace some of those recommendations and give the office more credibility overall, and they haven’t done that always in the past,” said Linder.
He would like to see the office engage more with the community. That includes letting people know it exists.
“You can’t make people come to a meeting but you can do reports, you can find ways to get people involved. I want to see more interaction between the office and the community and see more mobilization around the idea of education and just showing folks how to use the office the right way.”
A public forum will be held for the community to meet the finalists, but a date for that meeting hasn’t been released yet.