Case: DOJ Investigation of Austin Police Department

No Court

Filed Date: May 31, 2007

Closed Date: 2011

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On May 31, 2007, the Austin NAACP and Texas Civil Rights Project filed a complaint with the Department of Justice (DOJ) against the Austin Police Department (APD), opening this investigation. The NAACP alleged that the APD had violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and asked the federal government to withhold nearly 3 million dollars in federal funds until the city eliminated its racial disparities. The complaint alleged systemic police misconduct, citing that between 1999 and 2003 eleven pe…

On May 31, 2007, the Austin NAACP and Texas Civil Rights Project filed a complaint with the Department of Justice (DOJ) against the Austin Police Department (APD), opening this investigation. The NAACP alleged that the APD had violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and asked the federal government to withhold nearly 3 million dollars in federal funds until the city eliminated its racial disparities.

The complaint alleged systemic police misconduct, citing that between 1999 and 2003 eleven people died from encounters with Austin police. Of these eleven individuals, only one was Caucasian, the rest were either Hispanic or African American. The DOJ informed officials it would undertake review in 2007.

In the resulting findings letter, dated December 23, 2008, the DOJ made 160 recommendations to improve the department's policies and procedures, most of which had been implemented by APD during the investigation period. These included: changes to the use-of-force policy; changes in the way officers report uses of force; and changes to the department's intake, classification, and the systemic handling of citizen complaints about officers, which the DOJ called "needlessly complex and fraught with opportunities to apply subjective judgment."

The recommendations additionally included: implementing a planned “early intervention system” to identify officers with a tendency to violate police policy and use of force; having the internal affairs division conduct investigations in “an objective and probing manner;” having review boards identify tactical or training issues that could be corrected to minimize uses of force against citizens; and allowing the Office of the Police Monitor to provide objective and public reports on the conduct of the internal affairs division.

On May 27, 2011, the DOJ officially ended its inquiry into the use-of-force practices of the APD, concluding that it found "no reasonable cause to believe that APD has engaged in a pattern or practice that violated the Constitution or laws of the United States.

Before the case closed, it made four more recommendations. First, the DOJ recommended that the APD "bring to fruition its planned, though not fully implemented" early intervention system, which is meant to identify officers who "demonstrate a tendency to violate APD." Second, Internal Affairs should be sure to "conduct investigations in an objective and probing manner," in keeping with the recommendations the DOJ made in 2008. Third, the department's use-of-force review process should "identify potential tactical or training issues" that could be "corrected to minimize uses of force." Finally, the DOJ recommended that the city's Office of the Police Monitor should provide "objective, public reports on the conduct of APD's internal affairs." While the police monitor's office has previously produced purely statistical reports – the number of complaints made to the office, for example – the DOJ recommended that APD "utilize OPM to produce timely reports not just on the number of internal affairs complaints ... but also to provide a qualitative analysis of the internal affairs system."

The matter is now closed.

Summary Authors

Ginny Lee (3/23/2017)

People


Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Brown Cutlar, Shanetta Y. (District of Columbia)

Douglas, David (Georgia)

Murphy, John E. (Texas)

Smith, Jonathan Mark (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Kennard, Karen M (Texas)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Brown Cutlar, Shanetta Y. (District of Columbia)

Douglas, David (Georgia)

Murphy, John E. (Texas)

Smith, Jonathan Mark (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Kennard, Karen M (Texas)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Findings Letter

Dec. 23, 2008

Dec. 23, 2008

Findings Letter/Report

Re: Austin Police Department

Dec. 23, 2008

Dec. 23, 2008

Findings Letter/Report

42 U.S.C. & 14141 Investigation of the Austin Police Department

May 27, 2011

May 27, 2011

Findings Letter/Report

Resources

Docket

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Texas

Case Type(s):

Policing

Key Dates

Filing Date: May 31, 2007

Closing Date: 2011

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

The Austin NAACP and Texas Civil Rights Project

Plaintiff Type(s):

Non-profit NON-religious organization

Attorney Organizations:

NAACP Legal Defense Fund

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Austin Police Department, City

Defendant Type(s):

Law-enforcement

Case Details

Causes of Action:

Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act, 34 U.S.C. § 12601 (previously 42 U.S.C. § 14141)

Title VI, Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq.

Special Case Type(s):

Out-of-court

Availably Documents:

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Private Settlement Agreement

Order Duration: 2007 - 2011

Content of Injunction:

Develop anti-discrimination policy

Discrimination Prohibition

Goals (e.g., for hiring, admissions)

Implement complaint/dispute resolution process

Monitoring

Reporting

Required disclosure

Training

Issues

General:

Aggressive behavior

Assault/abuse by staff

Disparate Treatment

Excessive force

Language access/needs

Racial profiling

Restraints : physical

Search policies

Discrimination-basis:

Race discrimination

Race:

Black

National Origin/Ethnicity:

Hispanic