May 4, 2020

Formal complaint: Purpose and scope and other policy violations

An anonymous complainant alleges that they were harassed by several officers for camping in a legal spot. Office of Police Oversight recommend that this allegation receive an A classification.

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The City of Austin is committed to compliance with the American Disabilities Act. Reasonable modifications and equal access to communications will be provided upon request. NOTICE OF FORMAL COMPLAINT ICMS #: 2020-0302 May 4, 2020 Complaint: The Office of Police Oversight received an anonymous complaint alleging that Austin Police Department (APD) officers may have violated APD policy during an interaction related to camping ordinances. The complaint states as follows: “Ofc , Several sergeants total about 5 or 6 officers illegally harassed me and others for camping in a spot that is LEGAL according to the new ordinance. They mentioned we would have to move either in 24hours or 3 weeks. Depending on which officer we talked to. Why do we have to move? By what legal authority. This is harassment and discrimination. Most of us are minorities. No legal campsites were mentioned. The State facility is overpopulated and full already. We don’t want to be harassed by APD any more threatened to b [sic] ticketed and arrested for just living. We aren’t doing anything but living here. Waiting on housing. Thank you for your swift attention to this issue.” This notice of formal complaint is a request for Internal Affairs to initiate an investigation in order to determine if the employee conduct is within compliance of APD policy, Civil Service Rules, and Municipal Civil Service Rules. Recommended Administrative Policies to Review (to include but not limited to): 301.1 PURPOSE AND SCOPE All persons deserve protection by fair and impartial law enforcement and should be able to expect similar police response to their behavior wherever it occurs. Employees will serve the public through direction, counseling, assistance, and protection of life and property. Employees will be held accountable for the manner in which they exercise the authority of their office or position. Employees will respect the rights of individuals and perform their services with honesty, sincerity, courage, and sound judgment. 301.2 IMPARTIAL ATTITUDE AND COURTESY Employees are expected to act professionally, treat all persons fairly and equally, and perform all duties impartially, objectively, and equitably without regard to personal feelings, animosities, friendships, financial status, sex, creed, color, race, religion, age, political beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression or social or ethnic background. 301.3 CUSTOMER SERVICE AND COMMUNITY RELATIONS APD constantly works to establish direct contacts with the community we serve. Without grassroots community support, successful enforcement of many laws may be difficult, if not impossible. Community involvement can be an effective means of eliciting public support, can serve to identify problems in the making, and may foster cooperative efforts in resolving community issues. Input from the community can also help ensure that agency general orders accurately reflect the needs of the community. The City of Austin is committed to compliance with the American Disabilities Act. Reasonable modifications and equal access to communications will be provided upon request. NOTICE OF FORMAL COMPLAINT 303.3 DEPARTMENT ISSUED BODY WORN CAMERA BWC equipment is to be used primarily by uniformed personnel as authorized per assignment by the Department and must be used unless otherwise authorized by a Commander or above. 303.3.1 WHEN DEPARTMENT ISSUED BWC SYSTEM USE IS REQUIRED This section is not intended to describe every possible situation where the system may be used. In some circumstances it may not be possible to capture images of an incident due to conditions or location of the camera, however the audio portion can be valuable evidence and is subject to the same activation requirements. The BWC should only be activated for law enforcement purposes. 303.3.3 WHEN DEPARTMENT ISSUED BWC SYSTEM DEACTIVATION IS AUTHORIZED Once the BWC system is activated it shall remain on until the incident has concluded or until deactivation is permissible in accordance with this order. 304.3.2 WHEN DMAV USE IS REQUIRED This order is not intended to describe every possible situation where the system may be used. In some circumstances it is not possible to capture images of the incident due to conditions or location of the camera however the audio portion can be valuable evidence and is subject to the same activation requirements. 900.1.1 RESPONSIBILITY TO KNOW AND COMPLY The rules of conduct set forth in this order do not serve as an all-inclusive list of requirements, limitations, or prohibitions on employee conduct and activities; employees are required to know and comply with all Department policies, procedures, and written directives. 900.3.4 PERSONAL CONDUCT (c) While on-duty or on the premises of City facilities, employees will not: 1. Use loud, indecent, profane, harsh, derogatory language, or use belittling term in any communications. 2. Ridicule, mock, taunt, embarrass, humiliate, or shame any person, nor do anything that might incite that person to violence. 900.4.1 DISCRETION AND REQUIREMENT TO TAKE ACTION Sworn employees are charged with the responsibility to enforce the law, preserve the peace, and to protect lives and property. Recommended Classification: The OPO is permitted to make a preliminary recommendation on the classification of administrative cases. The OPO recommends that this allegation receive an A classification.
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