Sep 28, 2021 - Politics

Austin NAACP to challenge police chief appointment

An Austin police officer stands watch at soccer match in Austin in July.

Photo: Nick Tre Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Austin City Council is expected to approve interim police chief Joseph Chacon as the city's top law enforcement leader on Thursday — but Austin NAACP chief Nelson Linder tells Axios he will challenge the selection.

Catch up quick: Chacon won the interim slot after the former chief retired in March in the wake of anti-racism protests and the police killing of an unarmed Black and Latino man last year.

  • The former top APD deputy was selected last week by the city manager over two Black finalists from Dallas and Los Angeles. If approved, he will be the city's second-ever Latino chief.

What they're saying: "There's nothing wrong with" Chacon, Linder tells Axios, but his appointment goes against pledges for “transformational change” at the department on issues like equity and community engagement.

  • Mayor Steve Adler and others "wanted a good old boy they could control," Linder said.
  • "They want business as usual," continued Linder, who accused city manager Spencer Cronk of bowing to political pressure. "That's what they've always wanted in Austin, Texas. You promise people change, but you don't do that."

"This is the Manager's choice," Adler told Axios via an emailed statement. "Ultimately the council and I will hold the Manager responsible for continuing to ensure that Austin is one of the safest cities in the country."

  • At a news conference last week, Cronk said Chacon "really brings the reform-mindedness," "relationships" and "stability that our community needs."
  • "I was not anticipating necessarily to select an internal candidate,” he added, "but again, the process played out, and this was the right person for the job."

At the same presser, Chacon noted that as interim chief, he has changed the APD policy on releasing videos of officer-involved incidents from 60 days to under 10, reformed cadet training to emphasize community connections and improved anti-racism training.

  • "It's important to recognize the amazing work that the Austin police Department does and has been doing on a daily basis," he added.

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