BREAKING: Austin Police Chief Brian Manley to step down March 28, national search for successor underway

Austin Police Chief Brian Manley (Courtesy Austin Police Department Periscope)
Austin Police Chief Brian Manley (Courtesy Austin Police Department Periscope)

Austin Police Chief Brian Manley (Courtesy Austin Police Department Periscope)

After 30 years in the department and more than two years as chief, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley will retire from his post as the city's top cop March 28, according to a Feb. 12 memo from City Manager Spencer Cronk.

Manley's retirement from the force comes as the police department is under heightened scrutiny for its use of force and cadet training. Cronk said he will "immediately start to conduct a national search for our next chief."

Manley was appointed and confirmed as chief in June 2018 after, as interim chief, he lead the investigation into serial bombings that killed two people and injured several others.

"I want to thank Chief Manley for his leadership and service to the City of Austin," Cronk said in a memo. "He has been a dedicated public servant to this community for three decades and has proudly led the men and women of our police department during incredibly challenging times."

However, under Manley, the department drew widespread criticism for what many deemed excessive use of force.

In late 2019, City Council froze cadet classes after allegations that it encouraged a warrior, as opposed to guardian, mentality. An investigation into the use of racial and homophobic language by the department's top ranks was also ordered. In April 2020, police officers shot and killed an unarmed Austin resident, Michael Ramos, in an event that spurred protests throughout the community.

Then, following the protests that ensued in Austin and across the nation against the death of George Floyd, the police department came under further community ire for excessive use of force against unarmed protesters, two of whom were critically injured by "less lethal" bean bag bullets. Calls from the community and local elected officials to fire Manley intensified, and Cronk's apparent unwillingness to make a change at chief drew questions from City Council members.

City Council responded during the August budget session by promising to "reimagine public safety" in Austin and immediately cut $21.5 million from the police budget and set aside another $129 million for potential further cuts.

The Greater Austin Crime Commission, which advocates for police interests in Austin, said Manley led the department with "character and integrity."

"As chief, Manley championed efforts to expand community policing and confronted the public safety challenges of a growing city," Corby Jastrow, the commission's president, said in a statement. "The Austin Police Department is a better organization because of his humble and effective leadership."
By Christopher Neely
Christopher Neely is Community Impact's Austin City Hall reporter. A New Jersey native, Christopher moved to Austin in 2016 following years of community reporting along the Jersey Shore. His bylines have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun, USA Today and several other local outlets along the east coast.


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