Institutional reform

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Delia Garza
Posts: 46
Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2015 9:20 am

Institutional reform

Post by Delia Garza » Fri Jun 05, 2020 2:15 pm

Colleagues,

Racial justice requires action and policy change, not just words and studies and reports, as important as those often are. My office has been working on Item 50 for the past few weeks and I had already posted an item on the June 11 agenda that works toward institutional change and accountability in Austin, starting with our police department, and using Strategic Direction 2023 as the tool to help us get there. Today I will post a revised draft that lays out clear goals we can set right now and hold ourselves accountable to:
• Zero racial disparity in traffic stops;
• Zero racial disparity in arrests and citations that result from traffic stops;;
• Zero use-of-force incidents; and
• Zero deaths at the hands of APD officers.

Racial disparities in policing are unacceptable, and every use of force and every injury or death involving APD officers should be an extraordinary event so far outside what we expect our police to do that must be followed by appropriate action to prevent it from happening again. If the way our police department operates makes it seem like those outcomes are inevitable, then we need our police department to find new ways to operate. In our revised draft, we lay the groundwork for tracking progress on these goals given the work the Office of Police Oversight, the Equity Office, and the Innovation Office have already done or are currently working on.

The resolution also addresses racial disparity outcomes in other City departments as well, so that we can work for racial justice and dismantle institutions that leave Black and Latinx people facing worse health outcomes like higher maternal mortality rates and shorter life expectancy, less economic mobility, higher rates of homelessness and housing insecurity, more poverty, and more interactions with the criminal justice system.

This work requires both immediate action and institutional reform at every level of government and in our communities. I want to thank my colleagues, CM Harper-Madison, CM Casar, and CM Flannigan for their hard work and collaboration in drafting critical budget, policy, and oversight reforms for the June 11 addendum. There will be much more hard work ahead of us, and I look forward to it alongside this Council.

All my best,

Delia Garza

http://assets.austintexas.gov/austincou ... 134015.pdf
Mayor Pro Tem, District 2

Greg Casar
Posts: 130
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2015 3:20 pm

Re: Institutional reform

Post by Greg Casar » Fri Jun 05, 2020 4:13 pm

Colleagues,

It has been a long and challenging week for our City, and I appreciate everything that this Council has said and done to address the real and valid pain the community is going through. I know we are all ready to do the right thing for Austin.

I, along with my cosponsors CM Harper-Madison, MPT Garza, CM Flannigan, and the Mayor, am bringing forward Item 95 for the June 11th agenda to implement necessary policing reforms, many of which align with the 8 Can’t Wait and Campaign Zero demands.

There will be a package of four criminal justice items to discuss on Thursday, including this one. In addition to MPT Garza’s item above, and my item below, there are two other items sponsored by Council Member Harper Madison and Council Member Flannigan. I believe they will add to this thread as well. This Criminal Justice package will be the first of many steps to implement the immediate changes and institutional transformation we need.

Here is the link to my item and a summary below:

Item 95: https://www.austintexas.gov/edims/docum ... ?id=341741

· Use of Tear Gas and Impact Munitions -- We should no longer use tear gas, rubber bullets, lead pellet/”bean bag” rounds, and other impact munitions against persons exercising their First Amendment rights. We have seen that these weapons can cause unnecessary and avoidable harm. The Chief has announced one important change by banning these munitions in crowds. But as I stated earlier, that change is insufficient to address what happened to Brad Levi Ayala.
· Use of Deadly Force -- Our police officers should always employ critical de-escalation tactics and exhaust all reasonable alternatives before relying on any use force and report when deadly force is used or threatened. We also need to explicitly ban shooting at people who are fleeing. We all have seen the video of Mike Ramos fleeing in his car before he was shot.
· Chokehold Use -- We should strictly and explicitly prohibit the use of chokeholds and strangleholds--tactics that reduce and limit air and blood flow. These tactics were used to kill Eric Garner and George Floyd. Currently, our police policies allow for improvisation of techniques--new policies should be created to ensure the use of chokeholds/strangleholds is strictly prohibited.
· Military-grade Equipment -- Policing across our country is over militarized. Moving forward, the use, stockpile, and purchase of military-grade equipment should be reduced as much as possible.
· No-Knock Warrants -- We have seen in recent months how no-knock warrants have led to the deaths of Breonna Taylor in Louisville and the Tuttle family in Houston. The use of these warrants should be reduced, and should be extremely limited to circumstances when there is a high risk and no other option.
· Facial Recognition -- To protect the safety and privacy of Austinites, enhanced facial recognition surveillance should not be used as a general policing tactic by our City.
· Cadet Class -- Our community and our Council has heard from former police cadets about the major shortcomings of our current academy. Until the appropriate changes are made, we should delay the July class.

I look forward to discussing and voting on these changes next week.

Black Lives Matter.

-Greg
Gregorio "Greg" Casar
Council Member District 4

Jimmy Flannigan
Posts: 82
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2017 8:44 am

Re: Institutional reform

Post by Jimmy Flannigan » Fri Jun 05, 2020 4:28 pm

Thank you colleagues for starting this thread.

Even prior to this past weekend, this group of council members has been taking a close look at systemic inequities in our city and through the Judicial Committee have engaged in many conversations, briefings and actions to advance racial justice work.

Last week, before the weekend’s events, MPT Garza, CM Harper-Madison, CM Casar and I posted an item on the 6/11 Council agenda to formally convert the Council Judicial Committee into a Council Public Safety Committee. Now, even more than a week ago, we know this is the exact direction we need to take in order to address these important issues and provide an accountability space for all public safety matters. We’ve since reposted it as an emergency item 93 so that the Committee can be formed immediately and convene as soon as possible to continue the conversations and work on implementation strategies we have all discussed this past week.

You can view the updated emergency item here: https://www.austintexas.gov/department/ ... eg.htm#093

Black Lives Matter.

Jimmy
Jimmy Flannigan
Council Member, District 6

Ann Kitchen
Posts: 185
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2015 4:04 pm

Re: Institutional reform

Post by Ann Kitchen » Sat Jun 06, 2020 3:28 pm

Institutional Reform and Mental Health

Colleagues

Thank you all for your work in putting together these Criminal Justice Reform resolutions for Council action on Thursday. I appreciate and respect the work that all of you have been doing through the Council Judicial Committee and on other initiatives. On Tuesday at our Worksession, I will be committing to adding my name as a co-sponsor to each of these resolutions.

I am also proposing that we find a way to fully fund the Mental Health Diversion Initiative. This program is an example of how our city can shift funding from policing to social services and addressing health disparities - in this case intervening in a crisis situation with mental health services whenever possible.

Last year I introduced long-needed reforms to the Mental Health response system, working with the Austin Justice Coalition and with CM Casar. Thank you to the community for advocating for this reform and to the entire Council for supporting this important initiative.

While the Initiative has begun and demonstrated effectiveness and viability - it is underfunded and not at full scale. The Council did not fully fund last year during our budget cycle. Among actions necessary to bring the program to scale - funding for additional counselors in the 911 Call Center to direct calls to a mental health clinician for more of the people calling 911 who are in mental health crisis.

The Mental Health Diversion Initiative is a program that addresses the response to mental health crises in the most appropriate way - with a mental health professional whenever possible. It is much needed reform that it is time for the city to fully fund and implement.

I will be posting more information about the Mental Health Initiative on Monday.

Best Regards
Ann Kitchen
City Council D5
Ann Kitchen
Council Member District 5

Leslie Pool
Posts: 170
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2015 3:22 pm

Re: Institutional reform

Post by Leslie Pool » Sat Jun 06, 2020 5:46 pm

MPT Garza and CM Casar, I've read the resolutions below that you will bring on the June 11 agenda, and support the directions you’re heading. The specifics in these items essentially align with statements each of us separately has made recently and with policy positions we've championed together at various times, and they further the progressive legislative work that is the currency of this Council. I also commit to adding my name as a co-sponsor to your resolutions as well as to the one CM Harper-Madison is sponsoring.

I also support CM Kitchen’s proposal (below) that we find a way to fund the Mental Health Diversion initiative begun last year. If we fully fund - and even increase - crucial mental health services, make changes proposed in these resolutions, and expand community policing in our city, then we will move forward toward healing and becoming a better city. All of these efforts promote the resilience of our community, they benefit our community, and they will unify us.

We may want to consider also addressing some elements in these resolutions during the upcoming budget process. Setting them out now ensures that they’re part of the framework for the draft budget the City Manager will be bringing to us soon.

Best regards,

Leslie
Leslie Pool
Council Member, District 7

Lauren Hartnett
Posts: 20
Joined: Wed May 22, 2019 2:13 pm

Re: Institutional reform

Post by Lauren Hartnett » Sun Jun 07, 2020 12:32 pm

On behalf of CM Harper-Madison:

This past week, myself, my staff, and my esteemed colleagues have been working tirelessly to bring forward policy recommendations and direction that begin to combat the systemic iniquities of inaction, racism and white supremacy. One item my office is forwarding is related to Fair Chance Housing. For far too long, council has dragged its feet to increase fair housing choice for some of the most vulnerable residents in our city. Now more than ever, people need to be housed and we must do what is within our power as a council to increase housing opportunities for everyone during this global pandemic. This Thursday, this resolution will give formerly incarcerated residents and residents with eviction history more of a fighting chance to live in affordable housing in our city. All we are asking is that certain look-back periods for convictions and evictions must be a part of the tenant selection process for developers that receive city funding and assistance. The entirety of an individual’s application should be considered when applying for housing. Myself and my colleagues see this as an opportunity to begin to address not only the affordable housing crises in Austin, but also the crisis of people experiencing homelessness, many of whom have criminal and eviction backgrounds.

In addition, my office is bringing forth a resolution pertaining to the Austin Police Department and its relationship to the upcoming fiscal budget and the Austin City Council. On behalf of my constituents and Austinites throughout our city, it is time to act to hold the Austin Police Department accountable by edifying the very innerworkings of our municipal government and spending priorities. I want to be very clear that this resolution has no intention of uprooting the foundations of APD nor is it an attempt at full-sweeping reform. This is the beginning of a long road of gritty, taxing, and difficult policy work.
I encourage my colleagues, city staff, constituents and Austinites alike to join us on this journey. We have an opportunity to be an example to America of how a once small slave trading town can overcome its racist history and become a beacon for accountability, safety, and representative leadership.

Kind regards,
Natasha
Policy Director

Paige Ellis
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2019 4:37 pm

Re: Institutional reform

Post by Paige Ellis » Mon Jun 08, 2020 11:10 am

Colleagues -

Thank you for bringing these items forward. There are many aspects of our police department's processes that need to be addressed, and I look forward to supporting these initiatives on Thursday.

Thank you,
Paige Ellis
Paige Ellis
Council Member, District 8

Kathie Tovo
Posts: 92
Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2014 11:18 am

Re: Institutional reform

Post by Kathie Tovo » Mon Jun 08, 2020 4:40 pm

Dear Colleagues,

I want to add my support for items 50, 95, and 96 on this week’s Council agenda. I share the sense of urgency in initiating the transformational change we need with regard to policing in the City of Austin, from changing the Austin Police Department’s use of force policies to incorporating a different approach to budgeting for public safety. I appreciate Council Member Harper-Madison, Council Member Casar, and Mayor Pro Tem Garza for their leadership on these resolutions, and I commit to working together toward these critical changes.

Best,
Kathie Tovo
Council District 9

Ann Kitchen
Posts: 185
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2015 4:04 pm

Re: Institutional reform

Post by Ann Kitchen » Mon Jun 08, 2020 11:07 pm

Colleagues

On Saturday I proposed that we find a way to fully fund the Mental Health Diversion Initiative. This program is an example of how our city can shift funding from policing to social services and addressing health disparities - in this case intervening in a crisis situation with mental health services whenever possible.

The following is an amendment CM Pool and I will propose to Item #96, sponsored by CM Harper-Madison. We appreciate her work on these issues and the opportunity to propose adding an amendment to fully fund the Mental Health Diversion Initiative and bring the program to scale.

I have included the language of the amendment in this message posting, and will also post a link to the document (tomorrow when I can access that function of the Message Board!)

Best Regards
Ann Kitchen
City Council D5


KITCHEN AND POOL AMENDMENT
ITEM #96 – CM HARPER-MADISON
Approve a resolution relating to Council direction for the FY 2020-21 budget and creating reporting requirements for Austin Police Department General Orders.

ADD THE FOLLOWING WHEREAS (AFTER THE 8TH WHEREAS):

“WHEREAS, for Fiscal Year 2020 Council budgeted for the implementation of a program of alternatives for first response to mental health crisis calls, and from December 16, 2019 to June 4, 2020 of 23,333 calls for service with a mental health component, 291 were transferred to a Crisis Center Counselor, indicating the need for continued development of additional alternatives and the resources to do so; and”

ADD THE FOLLOWING, AS THE NINTH BULLET:

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF AUSTIN: 
The City Manager is directed to bring forward a baseline budget that: 
. . . . .

- Increases staffing for mental health first response, such as Community Health Paramedics, to ensure the full implementation of an alternative response to 911 calls related to mental health; [THIS IS EXISTING PROVISION IN THE RESOLUTION}

- "Provides at least $1.5 million for the continuation and expansion of the First Responder Mental Health Calls for Service program outlined in the 2019 Meadows Institute Report and begun by Council in the FY 2020 budget, to include funding for mental health clinicians, call center training and support, equipment and technology, project management and implementation support." [THIS IS THE ADDED PROVISION]

BACKGROUND:

The Mental Health Diversion Initiative (named the “First Responder Mental Health Calls for Service Program”) is a program that addresses the response to mental health crisis in the most appropriate way – with a mental health professional. The recommendations included in the 2019 Meadows Institute Report “present an opportunity for the City of Austin to meet its goal of effective mental health crisis resolution and create a unique system addressing law enforcement and first responder system engagement with people in crisis.”

It has long been a goal of the Austin community to have four options when people call 911: “Do you need police, fire, EMS, or a mental health professional?”  To achieve this goal, the city needs to ensure that a mental health professional option is always available to callers. The city must also support the program with appropriate management, training, equipment, and technology, at a level to bring the program to scale.
 
National data shows that people of color, particularly Black Americans, may experience mental health crises with greater frequency and greater impact than other races.  According to Mental Health America: 
• Adult Black/African Americans are 20% more likely to report serious psychological distress than adult whites.
• Black/African Americans living below poverty are three times more likely to report serious psychological distress than those living above poverty.
• Adult Black/African Americans are more likely to have feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness than are adult whites.
• And while Black/African Americans are less likely than white people to die from suicide as teenagers, Black/African American teenagers are more likely to attempt suicide than are white teenagers (8.3% v. 6.2%).
• Black/African Americans of all ages are more likely to be victims of serious violent crime than are non-Hispanic whites, making them more likely to meet the diagnostic criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Black/African Americans are also twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to be diagnosed with schizophrenia. 

In Austin, Integral Care’s crisis programs serve a disproportionately high number of Black and Hispanic clients in the context of the Austin census.  Integral Care's outpatient Crisis Programs and Crisis Helpline served the following populations in FY 19:

Expanded Mobile Crisis Outreach Team (EMCOT)
Children: 18.45% Black; 38% Hispanic
Adults: 22.08% Black; 20.7% Hispanic

Mobile Crisis Outreach Team (MCOT)
Children: 14.7% Black; 43.4% Hispanic
Adults: 15.9% Black; 20.5% Hispanic

Psychiatric Emergency Services (PES)
Children: 16.5% Black; 47.9% Hispanic
Adults: 21% Black; 24.1% Hispanic

24/7 Crisis Helpline
Children: 13.5% Black; 41.1% Hispanic
Adults: 18.5% Black; 20% Hispanic

  

 

 
Ann Kitchen
Council Member District 5

Ann Kitchen
Posts: 185
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2015 4:04 pm

Re: Institutional reform

Post by Ann Kitchen » Tue Jun 09, 2020 9:07 am

Colleagues,

Here the amendment I intend for item #96:
http://assets.austintexas.gov/austincou ... 090342.pdf

Best Regards
Ann Kitchen
City Council D5
Ann Kitchen
Council Member District 5

Alison Alter
Posts: 99
Joined: Fri Jan 13, 2017 3:52 pm

Re: Institutional reform

Post by Alison Alter » Tue Jun 09, 2020 11:52 am

Colleagues,

Thank you for putting forth these proposals; I look forward to supporting them on Thursday. As I mentioned earlier today in work session, I am proposing amendments that I hope will be taken as friendly. You can find links to my amendments below. I look forward to discussing them this afternoon during work session.

We have many critical conversations and difficult decisions ahead of us as a Council, and I look forward to working together as we navigate those decisions. I am committed to continuing and fortifying our work to transform our police department, and I join in the call for structural change and the innovative reimagining of public safety in our community.

Item 95 Amendments: http://assets.austintexas.gov/austincou ... 14409.docx
Item 96 Amendments: http://assets.austintexas.gov/austincou ... 14456.docx

Regards,
Alison Alter
Council Member, District 10

Ann Kitchen
Posts: 185
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2015 4:04 pm

Re: Institutional reform

Post by Ann Kitchen » Tue Jun 09, 2020 1:10 pm

Colleagues,

After considering feedback from the Law Dept, please see this REVISED v2 of the amendment I intend for item #96:
http://assets.austintexas.gov/austincou ... 130651.pdf

Best Regards
Ann Kitchen
City Council D5
Ann Kitchen
Council Member District 5

Nicole Golden
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon May 20, 2019 1:04 pm

Re: Institutional reform

Post by Nicole Golden » Wed Jun 10, 2020 2:17 pm

On behalf of Council Member Tovo:

Dear Colleagues,

As indicated in our discussion during yesterday’s Work Session, I’d like to suggest some minor amendments to Item 96. My edits to the original version are as follows, bracketed by asterisks:

1) Second bullet point under first Be It Resolved on page 4:
“Eliminates the sworn positions that the Austin Police Department cannot reasonably fill in FY2020-2021 and reallocates those unused funds to alternative public safety and public health strategies such as, but not limited to, training and standards for trauma-informed responses, substance abuse, mental health responses, a comprehensive and community informed community policing standard, COVID-19 relief, social services, housing stability programs, family violence prevention and family violence sheltering strategies funded through the Austin Public Health or Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Departments, *housing-focused case management for individuals experiencing homelessness, human trafficking prevention*, and other preventative actions and alternatives;”

2) Eighth bullet point on page 5:
“Increases staffing for mental health first response, *EMCOT, and the Homelessness Outreach Street Team (HOST)* to ensure the full implementation of an alternative response to 911 calls related to mental health;”

Thank you again to Council Member Harper-Madison for your leadership on this item.

Best,
Kathie Tovo
Communications & Outreach Coordinator, District 9

Greg Casar
Posts: 130
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2015 3:20 pm

Re: Institutional reform

Post by Greg Casar » Thu Jun 11, 2020 10:34 am

Colleagues,

Version 2 of Item 95 was posted as late backup yesterday afternoon. As I explained Tuesday, the substantive change prohibits the use of tear gas.

Today, I will be moving Version 3 for adoption that includes a minor clarification from the Airport:
http://assets.austintexas.gov/austincou ... 101042.pdf

-Greg
Gregorio "Greg" Casar
Council Member District 4

Lauren Hartnett
Posts: 20
Joined: Wed May 22, 2019 2:13 pm

Re: Institutional reform

Post by Lauren Hartnett » Thu Jun 11, 2020 1:28 pm

On behalf of CM Harper-Madison:

Colleagues,

Version 2 of item 96 was posted as late back-up yesterday afternoon. After additional input from cosponsors and city legal, I will be moving Version 3 for adoption from the dais.

http://assets.austintexas.gov/austincou ... 132712.pdf
Policy Director

Greg Casar
Posts: 130
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2015 3:20 pm

Re: Institutional reform

Post by Greg Casar » Thu Jun 11, 2020 8:41 pm

Colleagues,

Here's the language I'd like to add into Item 95 under the first Be It Resolved:

7. Acoustic Devices: Use of acoustic devices that can function as weapons, such as long range acoustic devices and sound cannons, shall only be used for communication purposes at safe decibel and frequency levels, and use as a sonic weapon is prohibited.

-Greg
Gregorio "Greg" Casar
Council Member District 4

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