Austin Police Shooting Sheds Light On Internal Affairs Unit’s Flaws


A police shooting in Austin has led to scrunity of how well the city’s police department investigations allegations of wrongdoing by its own officers. After he was named chief two years ago, Chief Art Acevedo transferred the commander and nearly every investigator out of the 17-member internal affairs unit, which had a reputation for aggressive reviews of officer conduct. Those moves and a lack of formal training for new internal affairs detectives were likely among several factors that led to problems in an investigation this year into the shooting death of Nathaniel Sanders II, reports the city’s American Statesman.

Results of an independent investigation that found bias among internal affairs detectives in favor of fellow officers are expected to become public this week after a disciplinary hearing for Officer Leonardo Quintana, who fatally shot Sanders on May 11. Acevedo said the bias was “not a matter of training. It is a matter of character and choice.” The internal affairs unit consists mostly of detectives with no supervisory authority. Investigating their fellow officers, they work as an arm for the police chief, who uses their findings to mete out disciplinary actions. National experts said good internal affairs units generally use only the most seasoned investigators with supervisory ranks.

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