Austin police have decide to handle things differently when it comes to three volatile types of situations on the streets of Austin. Texas Civil Right Project Attorney Jim Harrington says the most critical change is how police deal with calls involving the mentally distressed. A minimum of four officers and EMS will now be dispatched. Harrington says that's the most critically needed change since people have been killed by police on mental health calls in the past.
Two other changes include car searches, that now require approval by a field supervisor and written consent from the driver.
If an officer cannot express why they believe a search is necessary to gain evidence, permission will not be granted, Acevedo said. He said having more experienced supervisors signing off on searches will lead to more accountability.
The new policy notes that officers should be aware that overuse of the consent search can negatively impact the department’s relationship with our community.
The third is police are not allowed to step in front of a vehicle when there is a chance it could be used as a deadly weapon and cause the situation to escalate. Previously the policy said officers simply “should not” place themselves in front of a moving vehicle. Deadly force against the driver of a car is authorized when officers believe the vehicle is being used as a weapon against the officer or other people.
Texas Civil Right Project Attorney Jim Harrington talks about the changes: