Austin Police

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Austin police have released a list of the top 20 bars its DWI arrestees had their last drinks at before getting pulled over.

Here’s the list in question. The following are the top 20 bars associated with DWI arrests, from January through the end of October:

bluesanta.org

The Austin Police Department hosted its Operation Blue Santa breakfast this morning. All proceeds will benefit the department’s Blue Santa initiative, which delivers hot meals and toys to underprivileged families each holiday season.

By all accounts it was a success: Police Chief Art Acevedo tweeted this afternoon that the event raised over $190,000. And Blue Santa can use all the help it can get.

Daniel Reese for KUT News

Austin's Public Safety Commission will stay busy this evening discussing a medley of public safety topics:

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

The City of Cedar Park is hosting a meet-and-greet tonight with the two finalists for Chief of Police.

Austin Police Assistant Chief Sean Mannix and Irving Police Assistant Chief Jeff Spivey are the top two out of 76 initial applicants.

According to the Hill Country News, current chief Henry Fluck gave notice in February that he would be leaving the department at the end of the year. He has served as chief since 1999.

Austin Police Dept.; Motorcade photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

Brandon Daniel may be facing the death penalty for allegedly killing of Austin Police Officer Jaime Padron.

The Austin American-Statesman quotes District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg as saying seeking the death penalty for Daniel “is the right thing to do.”

Daniel was charged with capital murder in April of this year for the killing of Officer Padron at an area Wal-Mart.

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Update:  The Texas Civil Rights Project wrote this letter to APD yesterday, requesting an explanation of its disproportionate pot busts within ten business days. Citing the statistics in the story below, project director Jim Harrington writes, “These facts raise serious questions, at least, as to whether APD officers are doing racial profiling or consistently exercising their discretion in favor of whites and against African Americans.”

Original Post (Nov. 10, 1:39 p.m.): Despite Austin’s progressive reputation, smoking marijuana in this city can still get you in trouble with the law. And data from the Austin Police Department shows that is more likely to happen if you are African-American. 

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Voters in Colorado and Washington state elected this week to legalize marijuana for recreational use. In Texas, the drug remains very much illegal. But a state law passed five years ago has resulted in thousands of people in Travis County avoiding arrest when they’re busted with small amounts of pot.

Back in 2007, State Representative Jerry Madden (R-Plano) authored a bill to give police officers the option to cite and release someone caught with less than four ounces of marijuana. 

“The reason for that was to save costs for some of our [police] departments, so that they had more people that would be available on the streets, instead of taking the time to bring very low-level offenders in and book them,” Madden said. “They were going to be released very shortly anyway.”

KUT News

Some people who live and work in downtown Austin spoke out at yesterday's Public Safety Commission meeting in support of the Austin Police Department’s so called “Public Order Initiative."

While Police Chief Art Acevedo says the zero-tolerance policy that went into effect in September is not an anti-homeless initiative… it does crack down on crime often associated with the homeless—including violations of the city’s ‘sit and lie’ ordinance.

Some have speculated that APD’s crackdown is happening because of the influx of visitors expected for Formula 1. But the Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association (DANA) says it’s a long-term problem.

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The Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services department is warning drivers to be on high alert for deer in the road during November and December.

These two months are what’s known as the “rut,” or deer mating season. During this time, deer can be inattentive to their surroundings and are more likely to dart out into the road and into the path of an oncoming car.

According to data released by the City of Austin and APD, there were 50 deer-involved collisions in 2011.  There have been 11 so far this year. Nationwide, research has found that approximately 200 people a year in the United States die in deer-related car accidents. Eighteen percent of all accidents involving deer occur during November. December is the third most common month for accidents involving deer.

Nathan Bernier

1. You're More Likely to Get Caught Tonight:

The Austin Police Department is enforcing a "No Refusal policy" beginning tonight at 9 and ending Thursday at 5 a.m.

That means police will conduct blood search warrants on drivers who are pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving and refuse to voluntarily submit to a breathalyzer or blood test.

2. It'll Cost You:

Police say anyone found with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher will be charged with a Class B misdemeanor and could face 3 days to 6 months in jail, a one year suspension of their driver’s license and a fine of up to $2,000 for a first offense.

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Austin police say no charges will be filed against a driver who police fired on on Sixth Street over the weekend.

As KUT News previously reported, shortly after 2 a.m. early Sunday morning an Austin police officer opened fire on a car that the officer said was driving straight at him after hitting two bystanders.

YNN Austin quoted police chief Art Acevedo’s description of the scene: "This person, for unknown reasons, decided to rapidly accelerate to the extent that she left acceleration skid mark on the pavement … And not only drove toward civilian victims – and struck civilian victims – but also drove toward the officer and refused to stop until shots rang out."

But this afternoon, police announced no charges would be filed against the unnamed motorist, whom they described as fleeing the scene quickly out of concern for her safety.

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Law enforcement agencies across Central Texas are cracking down on drivers who ignore the state’s “move over” law.

When emergency responders are stopped on the roadway, drivers are required to move over a lane to pass or to slow down to 20 miles per hour below the posted speed limit. If the speed limit is below 25 mph, drivers are required to slow to 5 mph.

For the next three weeks, Austin Police Department officers and law enforcement officers from at 20 other departments say they will will target drivers who illegally pass emergency vehicles.

With woolly traffic expected this weekend, city officials are reminding Austin drivers that texting while driving is banned under city law.

Texting while driving is a class C misdemeanor, which means offenders could face up to a $500 fine. And smart phone users should know that all "electronic messaging" is banned. That means no email, no Facebook, no ACL Festival iPhone app, and especially no Words With Friends behind the wheel.

Police Chief Art Acevedo asked drivers to be especially aware of pedestrians around Zilker Park this weekend, which, of course, is hosting the Austin City Limits Music Festival this weekend. Acevedo says crashes are likely to happen when texters look up from their phones and overcorrect.

To remind drivers not to text, Acevedo sported an orange thumb band, and encouraged others to do the same. 

Tonight will mark the 29th annual National Night Out.  And all over Texas, citizens will be turning their porch light on and spending the evening meeting with neighbors, police officers and public safety responders.

National Night Out is designed to heighten crime prevention and awareness, strengthen neighborhood bonds and, most importantly, send a message to criminals that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back against crime.

Austin is marking National Night Out with an event at The Domain this evening. The event will start at 5 p.m. and representatives from the Austin Police Department, Travis County Sheriff’s Department and Austin Energy will be there to help educate people about crime prevention. Along with information, food and games will be available to help build the neighborly spirit.

Interested in learning more about National Night Out? You can visit the site for the National Association of Town Watch or Austin Police's National Night Out page.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Update (5 p.m.): Austin Police tell KUT News Paladino died at University Medical Center Brackenridge approximately one-hour ago. 

Update (4 p.m.): Police have identified the suspect as 42 year-old Maurice Chad Paladino.

Update (2:40 p.m.): Austin Police have released the name of the officer involved in the shooting. APD officials say Officer Brandon Blanche was in danger for his life.

"In watching the video," Assistant Police Chief Sean Mannix says, "I think all of us are comfortable that there's not going to be any legal issues with the shooting, that the officer likely acted lawfully. But we hold our officers to a higher standard administratively. What we have to look at is the lawfulness of the shooting, but we also have to look at the tactics employed and how the officers got to the situation they were in as well."

Mannix says Blanche was clearly in the path of the vehicle that "actively engaged" when he discharged his weapon.

The still unnamed suspect is said to be in "grave condition."

The State of Texas executed Cleve Foster, 48, last night. He was put to death for the sexual assault and shooting death of Nyaneur "Mary" Pal in Fort Worth in 2002.

Here’s what KUT News has been working on this morning:

Here’s a roundup other Austin and Texas stories from around the web:

  • Austin's First 'Kids Only' Yoga Studio (KEYE)

KEYE reports that The Little Yoga House is Austin's first "kids only" yoga studio. Creators say it teaches kids not only about the importance of a healthy lifestyle but also about dealing with stress in a healthy way.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Austin police officers will be required to get permission from a supervisor before searching a vehicle with the owners’ consent. That’s one of several APD policy changes announced today by police chief Art Acevedo. Officers will also have to get the driver to sign a form saying they voluntarily consent to the search.

Acevedo made the announcement while standing alongside local civil rights leaders Nelson Linder with the NAACP and Jim Harrington with the Texas Civil Right’s Project.

“It was historically an issue for years,” Harrington said in a phone interview.  “Police on the East Side would stop people and search them and claim it was by consent. I think we’ve seen considerable progress in limiting consent searches to where there really is consent and now of course there has to be supervisor approval.”

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

A recent emergency call that went out to Austin-area residents worked, according to police. But judging from a statement the authorities released regarding the message, it may have frayed some nerves in the process.

Over the weekend, the Austin Police Department utilized the Emergency Notification System (ENS) to develop leads related to a missing persons case. Functioning like a 911 call in reverse, the ENS system is utilized by several Central Texas counties to relay information over the phone in case of emergency.

“The activation worked as intended. We received at least two calls from citizens who listened to the ENS announcement,” Austin Police write in a statement released this afternoon. “They provided helpful information to help locate the missing elderly woman.”

KUT News

City of Austin officials will address all these titular topics and more at a jam-packed meeting of the Public Safety Commission this afternoon, the group that makes safety-related recommendations to the City Council.

Following a 15-minute allotment for public comment, the members of the commission will hear from speakers on several topics. Speakers and their topics include:

  • Austin Fire Department Chief of Staff Harry Evans and Austin Firefighters Association President Bob Nicks, on wildfire risk.
  • Austin Police Department Assistant Chief Patrick Ockletree, on neighborhood enforcement issues in the 12th and Chicon area.
  • APD Assistant Chief Rail Munguia, on neighborhood enforcement issues in the downtown area.
  • A representative from APD, on Travis County Animal Services' report on "dog bites in relation to public safety."

KUT News

Amidst the tarps, sleeping bags, and food wrappers at City Hall during the Occupy Austin protests last fall, three people were not who they appeared to be.  Not occupiers, but infiltrators.

Known as "Butch," "Dirk," and "Rick," all three were undercover officers with the Austin Police Department.

Occupiers say that "Butch," aka APD detective Shannon Dowell, went beyond infiltration and actively encouraged members of the movement to create and deploy a homemade device called a "lockbox."  The device enables protestors to anchor themselves to each other, or an object, in a way that is almost police-proof.  Several protestors used the devices in a protest at the Houston port, and were arrested on felony obstruction charges.

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