City manager appoints Brian Manley as permanent police chief

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Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk will seek confirmation of Austin Police Department Interim Police Chief Brian Manley to the position of permanent chief from city council at its next meeting on June 14, according to a memo Cronk sent to Mayor Steve Adler and council members on Friday.

Cronk’s announcement comes after a month-long community engagement process that included two televised community forums, panel interviews and an online message board.

This process, according to Cronk, was intended to give Manley an opportunity to set out his vision for public safety in Austin as well as to allow the public a chance to provide feedback.

“In summary, many of the residents provided positive feedback regarding Chief Manley’s character as an honest and trustworthy leader who effectively led the department through this interim period and noted his outstanding leadership in responding to the Austin bombings,” Cronk wrote in the memo.

“However, there were concerns raised by citizens who questioned whether or not he is able to bring about a cultural change in the department around areas of community policing, oversight and accountability. This concern was primarily due to his internal candidacy status and the uncertainty of whether or not an internal candidate can be an effective change agent.”

To address these issues, Cronk has secured Manley’s agreement to focus on community policing and transparency efforts and be supportive of efforts to improve police oversight and office accountability; increase diversity at all levels of the department; mandate all assistant chiefs and commanders attend a training seminar called Undoing Racism by the end of 2018; and enhance de-escalation training to improve police response to mental health calls.

Manley was appointed to the interim chief position in December 2016 after former Police Chief Art Acevedo left to lead the Houston Police Department.

Since then, Manley has led the department through an ongoing contract dispute between the city of Austin and the Austin Police Association, contentious national debates around policing and racial equity, and, most recently, a series of bombings that terrorized the city in March.

Manley was named the lone finalist for the role of permanent chief on April 30. His promotion was endorsed by the APA and the Greater Austin Crime Commission.

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Emma Freer
Emma Freer began covering Central Austin for Community Impact Newspaper in 2017. Her reporting focuses include employment and economic development. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School in 2017.
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