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City Manager responds to call for discussion about police discipline

From City Manager Marc Ott's office to APA: Sgt. Wayne Vincent, President Dear Sir, On June 18, 2014 the Board of Directors of the Austin Police Association met to discuss the recent case of Officer Jonathon LaBorde specifically and the disciplinary environment within our Department in general terms. Our Board of Directors are Austin Police Officers chosen by their peers from all geographic locations throughout the Department. They also represent every rank within the department. They have authorized this communication, and you will see their signatures as confirmation our concerns are from the entire governing body of the Austin Police Association and not just that of a few of its officials. We are requesting a meeting with you personally in attendance. We feel recent events have highlighted a more general struggle in regard to the treatment of sworn City of Austin employees when they are the subject of a disciplinary process as it is administered within the Austin Police Department. While we obviously take exception with the decisions made in the LaBorde case that is not the focus of the issues we wish to bring to the table at the time of our discussion. The LaBorde case is but a small example of a disciplinary system that has been subverted and no longer has any focus on true positive behavior changing strategies. It is a system used to demand conforming attitudes among the workforce, inhibit diversity of thought, and retaliate against those who occasionally choose to respectfully disagree with certain administration officials. We are aware that you do not have the authority, nor would it be proper for you to interfere with the duties and the authority of your Chief of Police. That does not prohibit you from receiving information that assists you in understanding and judging the quality of decisions made by the Directors of various departments that report to you through an Assistant City Manager. It is in that light we wish to meet with you. We have made no secret of the fact we believe Officer LaBorde should be totally exonerated for his actions. That however is to be argued in several other venues and not appropriate for this meeting. His case will only be discussed as it relates to a pattern of abuse in the disciplinary system. This is a system that has gone unchecked and through the years has increased in abuses towards our police officers in spite of our best efforts to seek reform internally. In this meeting you will be presented documented cases over the years that we believe establish a pattern of abuse and justifies our appeal for reform. We will request you direct City of Austin resources from outside the Austin Police Department to assist in an effort of reform. We will make the case that even an attempt on our part and yours to improve the treatment of our officers through our most recent contract has failed. We will show you this failure is a result of our administration leaders and legal staff simply ignoring and circumventing key provisions. At the conclusion of this meeting we are confident that you will also understand why this is of utmost concern to us and how the current environment is degrading the effectiveness of the Austin Police Department. Our personnel are the most valuable resource within that Department. Their effectiveness and motivation to be their best has been taken away from them. Only a return to a fair, logical, and uncorrupted system of scrutiny will restore that valuable resource. We look forward to hearing from you concerning the scheduling of a meeting.

More details are emerging about an incident where an off duty Austin Police officer responded to an incident at his church.

The department has released the dashcam vide of the event.

 

 

Wayne Vincent with the Austin Police Association says the video speaks shows Officer Jonathon LaBorde did what he hopes any off duty officer would do: Apprehend a bad guy, "The LaBorde case is just the tip of the iceberg of a disciplinary system that has caused nothing but confusion with our officers who have to make life and death decisions momentarily. We want to talk about the bigger picture with the city manager, because so far we have been nothing bug ignored." Vincent says LaBorde is appealing his suspension over the incident.

Video courtesy of KVUE

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