Under new guidelines, Austin police officers who wrongly use deadly force or break certain state or federal laws while on duty will be fired, reports the Austin American-Statesman. Those who lie in police reports or in any official statements also will be terminated. Police officials have created a set of discipline guidelines they say will help ensure fairness, bolster cases in which officers appeal their punishments, and ease public concern about the fate of officers accused of wrongdoing.
The guidelines establish more severe penalties for officers who continue to make the same mistakes. “It is making it very clear, up front, the expectations,” said Assistant Police Chief David Carter. “If you are involved in this, this is what is going to happen. It’s not about, ‘You are one of the good ol’ boys, and we are going to give you a pass,’ or ‘You’re in this group, and we are going to hammer you.’ ” Officials plan to begin requiring supervisors to investigate complaints of low-level offenses, such as rudeness or missed court appearances, instead of routing them to internal affairs investigators. Supervisors would still be required to send cases to internal affairs if they learn of a more serious violation. Police Monitor Cliff Brown, who supports the adoption of discipline guidelines, questions the ability of officers’ immediate bosses to handle such matters objectively.