Joseph Chacon named interim Austin top cop, search process for permanent chief begins

Joseph Chacon was named interim Austin Police Department chief March 22. (Community Impact Newspaper Staff)
Joseph Chacon was named interim Austin Police Department chief March 22. (Community Impact Newspaper Staff)

Joseph Chacon was named interim Austin Police Department chief March 22. (Community Impact Newspaper Staff)

Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk announced March 22 that Assistant Chief Joseph Chacon will serve as interim police chief while the city conducts a nationwide search for Chief Brian Manley’s permanent replacement. Manley is set to officially step down March 28 after more than two years as chief.

“I hope through this process that we collectively find the ideal candidate —one who collaborates with our community, instills trust in the workforce, works to achieve results from established Council policy, creates a culture of improvement and accountability, and is willing and able to lead the department in ways that lead to equitable public safety outcomes for all,” Cronk said in a memo to City Council.

At a March 22 news conference, Cronk said he selected Chacon for the interim position for his balance of experience across departments as the city works to "reimagine public safety" through ongoing reforms. Chacon joined APD in 1998 and has served as director of the Austin Regional Intelligence Center, investigations bureau chief, headquarters bureau chief and central bureau chief.

“I didn’t ask [Chacon] to be a placeholder,” Cronk said. “I asked him to be an active participant who would not only take the work that our Reimagining Public Safety Team has been moving forward with, but lean into that and make sure we are acting on the recommendations and not losing any of the momentum that we have built thus far.”

The announcement follows a tumultuous year for the Austin Police Department. After police shot and killed an unarmed man, Michael Ramos, in April, community members engaged in protests against this and other incidents involving APD, spurred on by national protests against police violence in the wake of George Floyd’s death in the custody of Minneapolis Police. Several local civil justice advocacy groups, including the Austin Justice Coalition, called for the removal of Manley along with his chief of staff, Assistant Chief Troy Gay, and Assistant City Manager Rey Arellano, who oversees public safety.


In August, Austin City Council voted to remove around $150 million from APD’s budget, a reduction of 35% from the budget Cronk had initially proposed. Some of the leftover funds were reinvested in community programs, and some functions typically associated with police were shifted to other city departments. 2021 police cadet classes were included in the cuts, with training put on pause until significant changes to the department's training program are made.

According to Cronk, the search for a permanent chief will include opportunities for community input, beginning with a community survey this spring.

“My goal throughout is to ensure our residents are heard in who they want to see lead our police department,” Cronk said in the memo to council.

The search will extend nationwide, but Cronk did not rule out the possibility that an internal APD candidate would be selected, including Chacon and Gay. Executive search firm Ralph Andersen & Associates will lead the endeavor.

Austin residents wishing to weigh in on the search process can do so at www.speakupaustin.org/YourNextPoliceChief.
By Olivia Aldridge
Olivia is the reporter for Community Impact's Central Austin edition. A graduate of Presbyterian College in upstate South Carolina, Olivia was a reporter and producer at South Carolina Public Radio before joining Community Impact in Austin.


MOST RECENT

I-35 traffic
State now accepting public input on North Austin I-35 overhaul project

The public now has the ability to review and provide feedback on planning materials for a $400 million I-35 project.

Austin Bouldering Project currently operates a gym on Springdale Road in Austin. (Courtesy Austin Bouldering Project)
Local rock-climbing gym to open new location in South Austin this fall

The new gym will have comparable offerings to the original in East Austin.

Tents have become a common sight throughout Austin including along Cesar Chavez Street downtown, but with the passage of Proposition B the city may now consider moving unsheltered homeless individuals to designated sites. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin City Hall notebook: Designated campsites for the homeless are back on the table

City staff had previously dismissed developing official camping locations in 2019, but new directives from City Council this week could revive the concept in Austin.

Wag-A-Bag is headquartered in Round Rock. (Megan Cardona/Community Impact Newspaper)
Wag-A-Bag to operate under new ownership, name; Austin, TxDOT at odds over I-35 overhaul; and more top Central Texas news

Read the most popular business and community news from the past week from the Austin area.

The Highland Tech Center is an office complex that finished redevelopment in March. (Courtesy Aquila Commercial)
North Central Austin business news: Office complex opens in Highland, picnic meals offered in the parks and more

Mes Amis is an outdoor dining service that provides baskets with French-style cuisine for picnics. Two new fitness studios, Hive + Honey and Regymen, are also now open.

Stephanie Hayden-Howard will become an assistant city manager in Austin on May 10. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Role changes coming for health officials leading Austin-Travis County COVID-19 efforts

Dr. Desmar Walkes will take over as Austin's next medical director and local health authority as Dr. Mark Escott and Stephanie Hayden-Howard transition to new roles with the city.

Barton Springs Pool, shown here in March 2020, will require reservations for residents wishing to visit after 8 a.m. starting on May 17. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Barton Springs Pool will require reservations starting May 21

Visitors who want to visit the pool after 8 a.m. will have to make a reservation for a two-hour block of time.

Road closure stock image
TxDOT to demolish I-35 ramp in North Austin early Saturday morning

State crews will perform controlled implosions of the northbound I-35 to northbound US 183 flyover between 6-8 a.m. in the morning on May 8 and May 15.

A pilot Austin Police Department cadet class is now set to commence in June under an updated training regimen and with additional city and community oversight on the APD academy's culture and curriculum. (John Cox/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin City Council votes to restart APD cadet training in June, with framework for ongoing reviews of pilot academy

The Austin Police Department's 144th cadet class will now kick off training next month, with continued oversight of APD's instruction and culture throughout the 34-week academy process.