Austin Police

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Update (2 p.m.): Austin police and additional law enforcement agencies are holding a press conference at 3:30 p.m. to discuss "Operation Muerta Negra" (Black Death), the code name for this morning's bust. 

"The agencies executed nine search warrants and 19 people were arrested in connection with the year-long investigation," police write in a press release. That's four additional arrests than the 15 described by the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Update (1 p.m.): 15 Arrested in Connection With Heroin Distribution Ring

From the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Texas:

15 ARRESTED ON FEDERAL CONSPIRACY CHARGE IN AUSTIN-BASED HEROIN DISTRIBUTION OPERATION

Federal, state and local law enforcement have arrested 15 individuals, including ringleader 64-year-old Amado Pardo, in connection with an Austin-based heroin distribution operation …

KUT News

Supreme Court Health Care Decision Expected

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act possibly as soon as today.

The controversial law is the Obama administration’s most touted accomplishment. President Obama calls it "the most important piece of social policy since the Social Security Act in the 1930s, and the most important reform of our health care system since Medicare passed in the 1960s."

facebook.com/JusticeForCisco

After the controversial shooting of a pet dog named Cisco earlier this year, Austin Police are announcing training and policy changes to the use of lethal force on dogs.

Austin Police Department Chief of Staff  David Carter says the department is quickly implementing policy and training changes – in hopes an incident like the Cisco shooting doesn’t happen again.

“Before an officer takes action, there needs to be an imminent threat of bodily injury,” Carter says, “whereas in the past, it would describe that the animal was dangerous.” Additionally, officers would need to “justify the position of using a firearm, versus using some other method to repel a dog, if that’s necessary. For example using a nightstick, or chemical spray, or a tazer, or some other thing such as that.”  Additional responsibility now also falls on the officer’s supervisor to investigate such shootings, instead of having the officer self-report on the circumstances of the shooting.

Andy Uhler, KUT News

Assistant Austin Police chief Sean Mannix today said officers followed proper protocol in a high speed chase Friday – but added that the chase would have been “terminated in a matter of seconds” had the suspect not crashed into another car, killing an innocent motorist.

32-year old James Williford was hit and killed by a Ford F-250 allegedly driven by Reynaldo Victor Hernandez Jr. Hernandez was running from police when he raced through a red light and crashed into James  Williford’s Mitsubishi Lancer.

“This happened in a manner of seconds – less than a minute and a half from the time the officer got behind the vehicle until the crash occurred,” said Mannix.

Photo by Andy Uhler for KUT News

Today, family members of Austin Police Officer Jaime Padron joined Police Chief Art Acevedo in paying tribute to Wal-Mart employees whose quick reaction likely prevented further bloodshed in the incident that claimed Officer Padron’s life.

Chief Acevedo gave certificates of recognition to several Wal-Mart employees before recognizing Archie Jordy and Lincoln Le Mere specifically for stepping in and helping tackle the shooter. 

The two were presented with glass trophies which included Officer Padron's badge number. Since the shooting, Acevedo has called the actions of the two men the silver lining in a tragic event.

Photo by Nasha Lee for KUT News

The Austin Police Department announced a series of safety measures focused on drunk driving for the annual Republic of Texas Biker Rally. 

The ROT Rally kicks off this Thursday and runs through Sunday at the Travis County Exposition Center in Northeast Austin. Over 40,000 people have registered to attend, and over 100,000 on-lookers are anticipated, according to APD.  ROT is the fourth-largest biker rally of its kind in the United States.       

A “No-Refusal” policy will go into effect at 9 p.m. Friday through 5 a.m. on Sunday. Under the policy, police can issue blood search warrants on suspects who refuse to give a breath or blood sample.  Art Acevedo, the Austin Police Chief, hopes that the stringent policy will deter rally goers from making poor decisions while drinking. 

Photo by KUT News, Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News, Photo courtesy texassports.com

Unsolved Murders to get Another Look?

Today Austin’s Public Safety Commission will consider a change in the way the city investigates unsolved crimes like the Yogurt Shop Murders.

The commission’s vice chair says the city needs to spend money on external reviews for some unsolved crimes because Austin Police Department detectives know too much about the cases and aren’t able to be as open-minded about possible solutions

Dr. Kim Rossmo says the Yogurt Shop Murders should be the first case considered for an external review. In 1991, the bodies of four teenage girls were discovered after a fire in a yogurt shop. Convictions in the crime were overturned.

Photo by KUT News

Austinites will flock to the city's numerous parks and waterways this weekend. We've put together a guide for what you need to know about rules and safety.

Watercraft Ban: Put Away that Motorized Surfboard!

If you’re planning to celebrate the long Memorial Day weekend on Lady Bird Lake, you'll need to leave your motorized surfboard at home. The Austin Police Department will be enforcing an annual ban on motorized personal watercraft – like jet skis – from sunset on Friday until sunrise on Tuesday.

Photo by By Daniel Reese for KUT News

Today marks the beginning of another "Click it or Ticket" campaign, a two-week undertaking by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to enforce seat belt usage. 

In Texas and across the country, law enforcement will be on the lookout for drivers and passengers shirking seatbelt laws, or whose children are improperly restrained. (Children under eight years must be in a child safety seat, unless they are taller than 4'9".) Citations run up to $250.

The NHTSA writes on its website that in the annual “Click It or Ticket” initiative, over three million tickets have been written over the last five years – a ticket every other second.

Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News

In Austin, it’s illegal to use your cell phone for anything other than phone calls while driving. That includes texting and surfing the internet. The ban went into effect January 1, 2010.

But is the ban making a difference?

The Austin Police Department told KUT that officers have written just 26 citations for texting while driving since the city’s ban took effect.

Photo courtesy facebook.com/JusticeForCisco

APD's Official Statement on Cisco the Dog 

The Austin Police Department has issued a statement regarding the controversial shooting of Cisco the dog on Saturday.

The incident, which drew national press and inspired a Justice for Cisco Facebook page that currently holds over 60,000 likes, led both Cisco's owner Michael Paxton and APD Chief Art Acevedo to speak with KLBJ-FM yesterday. In the interview, Paxton says: "Obviously there's a breakdown of training here.  You don't approach an unarmed man in his driveway with weapons drawn." (In March, KUT News reported on ramped up weapons training at APD, set to start in April).

Acevedo said: "I'm sorry on behalf on all the members of the department.  We know the pain's real."

A closer look at APD firearms policy is occuring following the shooting of a pet dog, Cisco.
Photo courtesy facebook.com/JusticeForCisco

The shooting of a pet blue heeler, Cisco, by Austin Police Officer Thomas Griffin has drawn attention to police policy in dealing with animals.

Officer Griffin shot Cisco while responding to a domestic dispute call. Austin Police Department (APD) has stated he responded to an address the department was given on a 911 call; however, that address was incorrect. Upon entering the property, he found Cisco and his owner, Michael Paxton.

In dashboard video recently released by APD, Officer Griffin can be seen reaching towards his holster before exiting the frame. Seconds later, he’s heard yelling “Show me your hands,” and the sound of a barking dog occurs. Officer Griffin can then be heard yelling “Get your dog!” and a shot occurs immediately afterwards.

Blue heeler Cisco, dead after being shot by an officer with the Austin Police Department.
Photo courtesy facebook.com/JusticeForCisco

The Austin Police Department released more details on the controversial shooing of a pet dog named Cisco that has taken the web by storm.

At a press conference this afternoon, APD released dashboard video of Officer Thomas Griffin shooting the dog on Saturday. It has not yet been determined whether any disciplinary action will be taken against Griffin.  Officials say he is distraught over the shooting.

APD spokesman David Daniels says Officer Griffin responded to a call describing a conflict between a male and female who were intoxicated.  However, the address given by the 911 caller was incorrect. While searching for the couple, Griffin came upon a man and told him to put his hands up. Officials say the dog charged at that moment. Griffin, whose gun was un-holstered, fired one shot, killing the animal.

Cisco, the blue heeler allegedly shot by the APD this weekend.
Photo courtesy facebook.com/JusticeForCisco

The story of a dog’s shooting death at the hands of Austin Police has exploded across Facebook, raising questions about police policy when confronted with animals.

The story was posted to the social site this weekend on a page dedicated to the topic, “Justice for Cisco.” Cisco was the Blue Heeler owner Michael Paxton says was shot down in an incident this weekend.

The page administrator describes the incident on Saturday, April 14 below:

Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

APD Officer Killed in the Line of Duty to be Buried Today

Today, APD Senior Police Officer Jaime Padron will be buried in San Angelo. The local funeral will begin at 10 a.m., followed a procession to Lawnhaven Memorial Gardens where Padron will be laid to rest.

Padron was remembered in Austin on Wednesday with a funeral, police honors service and procession.

Photo by Huma Munir for KUT News

Today, Austin Police spoke to the fatal police shooting of a 35 year-old man last week.

Ahmed Jabbar Bradley was killed by Officer Eric Copeland after a foot chase that started when the officer pulled Bradley for a traffic violation. APD says Copeland smelled marijuana coming from Bradley’s vehicle, then pulled him over. Bradley fled the scene and Copeland pursued, catching up with him on the 5200 block of Overbrook Drive.

A struggle ensued. APD played a recording of a 911 call from a witness, saying the officer was on the ground and Bradley was trying to take his gun. APD says the dashboard cameras also revealed Bradley trying to strangle Copeland with his attached police radio wire. APD Assistant Chief Sean Mannix said the transceiver's head on Copeland’s radio was separated from the cord.

Memorial services inside Shoreline Church honoring Senior Officer Jaime Padron recently concluded. The bilingual service, with some speakers and songs in both English and Spanish, lasted about an hour and a half.

Speakers included Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell, members of Padron’s family, and Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo. Chief Acevedo delivered a lengthy and emotional speech, applauding Padron’s relatives, the Wal-Mart employees that tackled Padron’s accused shooter Brandon Montgomery Daniel, and groups that contributed financial support to Padron’s family.

Acevedo also lauded the Austin Police Department for showing “tremendous courage” and “tremendous class.”

Photo for KUT News by Nasha Lee Lee

Senior Police Officer Jaime Padron will remembered today in a service at Shoreline Church at 15201 Burnet Road. The public is invited to pay their respects.

For those who cannot attend, the funeral will be available to watch online on the church's website.

Immediately following the service, the congregation will exit the church and attend a police ceremony on the lawn which will include a police air unit flyover and a final radio call.

Padron's body will then be taken to San Angelo for burial.

Leffingwell photo by Carlos Morales for KUT News; Padron photo courtesy APD; Acevedo photo by KUT News.

Funeral, Motorcade for Officer Padron Today

Mayor Lee Leffingwell and Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo are among the scheduled speakers at the funeral of a fallen APD officer today.

APD Senior Police Officer Jaime Padron will be laid to rest today. Padron was killed Friday while responding to a call at an area Wal-Mart early Friday morning, April 6.

Funeral services for Padron start at 11 a.m. at Shoreline Church on Burnet Road. The funeral will be with complete police honors. At the conclusion of the services, Padron’s body will be taken to San Angelo for burial.

Photo courtesy flickr.com/racheldtaylor

Before the fatal slaying of Austin Police Senior Officer Jaime Padron at an area Wal-Mart last week, the last time a member of the Austin Police Department was killed was in 2004.

But a new analysis posits that even as other violent crimes fall nationally, the killing of police officers may be on the rise.

The New York Times points to an analysis of recent data, tabulating the number of police deaths at the hands of suspected criminals:

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