After nine hours of impassioned public comment, Austin City Council voted unanimously to reject the proposed five-year contract with the Austin Police Department and send the sides back to the negotiating table.
According to city staff, it was the first time in Austin’s history that City Council rejected a proposed police contract. Per District 6 Council Member Jimmy Flannigan’s motion, a new police contract is scheduled to be presented to council by March 22, 2018.
“The contract proposal before us tonight is not ready,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said before calling for the vote to reject the proposal.
Chas Moore, founder of the Austin Justice Coalition, thanked the hundreds of people who came to City Hall to voice opposition to the contract.
“This is what democracy looks like,” Moore said.
The Austin Justice Coalition was among several community advocacy groups that came together during the contract negotiations to demand the implementation of social justice reforms they believed would enhance the transparency and accountability of the Austin Police Department.
Representatives from the Austin Police Association, the city’s police union, were vocal in supporting the contract, which would have sustained the Austin Police Department’s reputation as the highest paid police force in Texas. The contract was estimated to cost the city $80 million over five years and included a roughly 10 percent raise for all officers over a five-year period. The contract also added financial incentives for experienced officers.
Interim Police Chief Brian Manley supported the proposed contract. Manley said that the proposal was a compromise but said it increased the accountability of the department.
City Council members said the contract did not make financial sense for the city, and some, such as District 4 Council Member Greg Casar, said the social justice improvements presented by the contract were not enough.