Austin Tx., Police Chief Art Acevedo has launched a criminal inquiry into how department officials have spent money seized from investigations during the past five years and whether they violated rules about how such dollars must be used, says the Austin American-Statesman. Acevedo, in his third week on the job, wants to scrutinize several payments from millions of dollars seized during investigations but declined to identify the transactions or amounts. Officials said this week that at least one payment, a $13,000 college tuition reimbursement for a commander, probably violated guidelines about how the money should be used.
An Austin American-Statesman review of thousands of transactions obtained under Texas open records laws showed that much of the money was spent on vehicle maintenance, training, and equipment purchases. Other spending included: $12,025 for an awards banquet; $3,314 for clothing for the department’s running team; $1,895 for a “race clock,” and $625 in October 2001 for coffee mugs. Federal guidelines and state law require the money that police departments get as the result of asset forfeitures in criminal cases to be spent on law enforcement. “It’s important for me, and for the confidence level, and for transparency sake, to make sure we are doing the right thing,” Acevedo said.