OPO responses to APD’s policy changes in 2021

In 2021, OPO made 31 objections to APD’s approved changes to 13 policies. The table below lists the policy topics addressed in OPO’s objections and summarizes our main recommendations.

OPO’s June 15th Memo (Click here to view full memoopen_in_new)

Language interpreter service (General Order 609.2)

OPO recommended that APD policy be revised to require the use of the Language Interpreter Service when interpretation is necessary to provide services to the public. The current policy language only states that the Service “should” be used; it is not required.

Externally initiated complaints (General Order 902.2.3)

OPO recommended that APD policy be revised to require officers to provide complainants with their names and badge numbers if the complainant has made an on-scene complaint but is not able to wait for a supervisor.

Department hardware and software (General Order 1000.5)

OPO recommended that APD policy be revised to define the terms used, including “facial recognition technology,” “facial recognition software,” “facial recognition services,” “law enforcement purposes,” “criminal investigative purposes,” and “surveillance purposes.”

Destruction of criminal history record information (General Order 118.7.2)

OPO recommended that APD policy be revised to provide details about APD’s tracking and logging procedures for the destruction and sanitization of electronic media, as well as details as to where the Department’s records control/retention schedules can be found.

Verbal warnings for the use of kinetic energy projectiles (General Order 206.5.2)

OPO recommended that APD policy be revised to provide a clearer standard for when verbal warnings are required and stop using “impacting” as the verbal warning prior to firing kinetic energy projectiles. This term is police jargon and is not widely understood by the public.

Pain compliance techniques (General Order 206.6)

OPO recommended that APD policy be revised to require officers to consider factors such as age, physical size, physical condition, mental health, number of officers assisting, etc.

Proper maintenance of TASER devices (General Order 208.7.1)

OPO recommended that APD policy be revised to require that any TASER defect found by an officer be reported to the supervisor immediately and preferably in writing.

Use of long-range acoustic devices (General Order 300.3.1)

OPO recommended that APD policy be revised to include more specific guidance related to time, place, and manner restrictions to assist officers in navigating First Amendment issues.

Copies of body-worn camera recordings (303.4.2)

OPO recommended that APD policy be revised to outline the specific General Orders sections that reference records retention or refer readers to the Office of the City Clerk and the City of Austin’s Public Records Access – Online Document Search

Consent searches (General Order 306.5)

OPO recommended that APD policy be revised to restore the previous policy language requiring that consent searches be executed only by officers who have received supervisor approval or are assigned to specific units and have received specific training. These requirements add additional levels of review and consideration to help prevent overuse and proper execution.

Warrant service guidelines (General Order 319.2.1)

OPO recommended that APD policy be revised to define the acronym “MRE,” which is used periodically throughout the General Orders but never explained or defined.

Vehicle towing and impound (General Order 350)

OPO recommended that APD policy be revised to define what constitutes an “item of value” and require that, in addition to verbal documentation on body-worn camera, officers provide a written record of vehicle damage and personal property located during the inventory of an impounded vehicle.

OPO’s August 19th Memo (Click here to read the full memoopen_in_new)

Utilization of NARCAN (General Order 415)

OPO recommended that APD policy be revised and restructured to provide more clarity, including clearer and more thorough definitions of “opioids” and “naloxone."

Contact information

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Main office: (512) 974-9090
Complaint and thank-you hotline: (512) 972-2676

Contact information

contact_phone
Main office: (512) 974-9090
Complaint and thank-you hotline: (512) 972-2676
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