Wednesday, November 08, 2006

New "Monitor" for Austin Police takes over toothless office

Austin just hired a new "Police Monitor," former Travis County prosecutor Clifford Brown ("Austin gets new police monitor," Austin Statesman, Nov. 8). Congratulations, sir!

Regular readers may know I was involved in the campaign in Austin to create this office years ago, but now fear the office Mr. Brown is taking over has become toothless.

Maybe he'll prove me wrong - please, for heavens sake, surprise me! At minimum it would be a good bully pulpit if someone would use it. But procedurally it has little power, I'm afraid, and information about police misconduct in Austin remains veiled in secrecy unless changed by the police contract in 2009 or by state law.

I wish you luck, Mr. Brown, you'll need it. And if you don't mind my saying so, please don't take too much advice from your predecessor Ashton Cumberbatch about how to run the place. You need to stake out your own vision and turn it into something new, because right now it's at risk of being discredited with the public as a pointless ritual. Your task will be to prove to the public and families who've been victimized by misconduct that your office isn't just windowdressing, that there's a good reason they should come to the Police Monitor and subject themselves to that lengthy and even personally risky process.

Welcome to the job, Mr. Brown. Let's see what you've got.

Thanks to Debbie for the heads up.

4 comments:

Catonya said...

Ashton Cumberatch ?

that's a real name?

Crawford's Take said...

Thank you so much for your post and for thinking of us up here in Wisconsin!

We managed to neutralize the death penalty issue by taking most of the Assembly, the entire state senate and winning back the anti-dp governor's seat, so in a way our targeted message to the voters in hard core pro-dp held seats seems to have been a great success.

Your post made my day (which is saying a lot since overall, it was a pretty damn good day!)

Rae

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Thanks, Rae,

And Cat, I actually misspelled it, it's Ashton Cumberbatch! It IS a funny one, isn't it?

800 pound gorilla said...

The problem is that any prosecutor - who has any professional ambitions - has all sorts of incentives to cover up police misconduct. Police make DAs look good for reelection - especially if they browbeat citizens and trample on "someone elses'" rights! I read the police contract. It's a joke! How can citizens - especially those who live in student areas [yes, I went to UT] and minority districts.

People in high income districts and frat boys have no problems with police behaving in a civil manner and using restraint. It's a career ender to harass someone with connections. And politicians don't concern themselves with the marginalized population: they don't vote - and who'd blame them in the echo chamber of bipartisan governance. Only when the "someone elses'" unite and start voting outside the echo chamber will things improve.
And yes, I've been pulled over in my runs and grilled by local cops for my complaints about the meth political rallies - but only once. I'm too visibly straight and narrow to risk too much harassment. Besides a false arrest would send my book sales skyrocketing!