Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Documentary criticizes Austin police discipline failures

It's already been a bad public relations week for the Austin Police Department - on Friday the Justice Department announced it would investigate the department's use of force policies, then over the weekend an officer with a history of disciplinary actions shot a fleeing suspect. On the heels of these incidents, a documentary has just been posted to YouTube for which I'd forgotten I was interviewed last summer back when I still worked for ACLU of Texas (I'm the balding white guy wearing shorts in Part Two). It was made for a UT Austin student film class. Here's Part One:



And here's Part Two:

6 comments:

whitsfoe said...

Hey man! It's Grits on the tube! I thought you'd be a long haired hippy!!! Just remember this Grits, you can't grow grass down a busy street!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Yeah, that's me - I've been told I have a face made for radio. :)

As for "you can't grow grass down a busy street" ... huh?!

JT Barrie said...

Hey, try to take a late night run in the "wrong" neighborhood in nearby Waco - even as a young white male - and you'll see police overreaction. Fortunately [for them] the police didn't get violent but the insinuations and tough language were there in spades. Nothing like having 2 police cars, spreadeagled on one of them, and having them take your wallet out of the back pocket as a sign of force. Of course, if I had on my racing shorts - without the wallet - I would likely have seen the inside of a jail cell. But as I was a minor [but visible] public figure in the nuclear freeze protest movement, the police might have refrained from more force.
Police won't bother me in my neighborhood either because of the visibility but neither will employers hire me except for jobs that are not easily filled.

whitsfoe said...

When someone makes fun of my receding hairline, that's what I tell them.... "you can't grow grass down a busy street!" You'll get it...

Tracey Hayes said...

Until the procedure for complaint filing is more bearable, bad cops will continue to remain difficult to identify and will continue to work not only undisciplined, but without any record of complaints. I had a police harassment situation last year and tried my best to follow up with all the appointments required (err, ah, interrogations), but it was too difficult, too far away if you don't own a car, and appointments have to happen during work hours- which can be the decisive barrier to filing a complaint. More often than not, when a person seeks counsel on whether or not they should file a complaint if it involves less serious police brutality (not murder, you just got roughed up or messed with undeservedly) they are told that it's just not worth it. I wonder how many complaints Olson may have had filed if the process were designed to be just as user friendly as it is protective of the police.

Anonymous said...

I think Austin's black community lost all credibility after the Sophia King shooting. Here was a woman in the act of plunging a knife into the chest of an innocent civilian. Officer John Coffey gets on scene and shoots her with one shot while King was on top of this civilian with the knife raised.

The response of the black community? The same outrage and name calling you see everytime an officer is forced to shoot a minority. There was no acknowledgement that Coffey was a hero and saved a life. Instead, the NAACP decided to protest weekly in front of APD HQ about police brutality.

Give me a break. The King shooting was a textbook good shoot and if they can't acknowledge this, then they will never accept any police shooting.