Police complaints up slightly in Austin for 2011

103 complaints were filed against Austin Police in all of last year.  That's the latest from the Austin Police Monitor's office, led by Margo Frasier.

"We don't have the 2011 Response to Resistance report from APD yet.  But in 2010, APD reported they used force 1,709 times that needed to be documented," Frasier said Thursday afternoon during a news conference at Austin City Hall.

Frasier says she would be delighted to be proven wrong, but questions whether all of the improper uses of force are being reported.  "I must say in one of those cases, the chief terminated [an] officer for her use of force," Frasier said.

Police Chief Art Acevedo also spoke during the news conference and says his department is not naive enough to think they're perfect, but there are people who fall off or fall short and they hold those people accountable.

"I still believe our response to resistance model that was blessed by the Department of Justice is probably, and our protocols as it relates to our investigations, is second-to-none," Acevedo said.

(Hear the entire news conference here) (Duration: 34 min, 53 sec)

According to city numbers, there were 708 "police contacts" in 2011, compared to 744 ini 2010; 682 in 2009; 605 in 2008 and 808 in 2007, the year Acevedo took over APD.  Supervisory inquiries registered 373 in 2011; 437 in 2010; 568 in 2009; 505 in 2008 and 267 in 2007.  Formal complaints were tallied at 344 in 2011; 316 in 2010; 345 in 2009; 398 in 2008 and 344 in 2007.  Internal Formal Complaints were counted at 241 in 2011; 227 in 2010; 237 in 2009, 230 in 2008 and 170 in 2007.  Finally, External Formal Complaints were tabulated as 103 in 2011; 89 in 2010; 108 in 2009; 168 in 2008 and 174 in 2007.

"We are going to require officers to not just get consent in video and audio, but also get written consent," Acevedo added, with regards to searches conducted by police officers and a change in that policy.

Frasier says she believes minorities still lack the knowledge of how to lodge a formal complaint about officer misconduct.  Acevedo says educated citizens are almost always aware of their rights, which cuts down on officers' ability to violate them, but people who do not know as much about their constitutional rights when dealing with law enforcement sometimes leaves it open for officer misconduct.

According to the report, African Americans file external complaints at a rate five times than the amount of African Americans of voting age. It shows blacks and hispanics are still being stopped for traffic violations more than their white counterparts. Blacks are getting stopped 13 percent of the time while hispanics are being stopped one out of ten times while whites are being stopped at a one out of 28 times. The report states for the first time caucasions, blacks and hispanics are filing the same percentage of external complaints in the history of the Office of Police Monitor.

See the complete report here.

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