Art Acevedo, a California Highway Patrol official who helped Los Angeles neighborhoods and law officers work closer together, will become Austin’s next police chief, reports the Austin American-Statesman. Acevedo, 42, will be the first minority chief and will take over an agency that has struggled to mend strained relations with black and Hispanic residents. He takes over as the U.S. Department of Justice investigates whether police use excessive force against minorities and as officials continue responding to questions about a deadly police shooting in which an African American man was shot twice in the back by a white sergeant.
Acevedo emerged as a front-runner with El Paso Police Chief Richard Wiles this week during a three-day series of meetings, impressing city officials and community leaders alike with answers to questions about police discipline, how officers use force, and how he would improve relations between the department and the community. Community groups have said they liked that Acevedo was experienced in dealing with a large population and a strong union and that he spoke Spanish. Other finalists were Roger Reinke, police chief in Marco Island, Fl., and a former Milwaukee assistant police chief; and Jimmie Dotson, a former Houston assistant chief and Chattanooga, Tn., police chief.