Here is how to file a civil rights complaint in the Austin area

(Designed by Rachal Russell/Community Impact Newspaper)
(Designed by Rachal Russell/Community Impact Newspaper)

(Designed by Rachal Russell/Community Impact Newspaper)

Protests calling for police accountability and criminal justice reform continue for a fifth day in Austin.

Austin City Council will hold a special called meeting June 4 to discuss the tactics used by the Austin Police Department against protestors over the weekend, which included firing tear gas canisters to disperse crowds. Police also fired "less-lethal" impact rounds at protestors, leading to hospitalization of several protestors, according to APD Chief Brian Manley.

Residents interested in providing public comment at that meeting are encouraged to sign up to speak here. The special meeting begins at 3 p.m. on June 4.

In Austin, the office of police oversight was established in November 2018 in order to establish greater transparency and oversight of the department, according to city documents.

In its first annual report, the office reported 802 contacts were made between Dec. 1, 2018, and Dec. 1, 2019, which may or may not have resulted in formal complaints against the APD or individual officers. According to the office, of those 802 contacts, 10 cases were identified as potential policy violations.

Citizens who feel they need to file a civil rights case against law enforcement have several avenues to make a complaint. Here are directions on how to file civil rights complaints with local and state government agencies.


Residents can file complaints against law-enforcement officers within APD through the city’s website, over the phone, by mail or in person.

The form to file a complaint on the office’s website can be found here.

To call in a complaint or to thank an Austin police officer, the public should call 512-972-2676. Complaints can be mailed to P.O. Box 1088, Austin, TX 78767. In-person complaints can be filed at the city of Austin Office of Police Oversight, located at 1520 Rutherford Lane, Bldg. 1, Austin.


In 2017, the Travis County District Attorney’s Office formed its own civil rights division, which is divided into the civil rights unit and the conviction integrity unit, according to the county.

County records indicate eight pending officer-involved shooting investigations in Travis County, including the April 24 shooting of Michael Ramos, an unarmed black man who was killed after being shot three times with a rifle by an Austin police officer.

However, the Travis County Civil Rights Division does not investigate administrative or civil cases from allegations of public servant misconduct or use of force, according to the county’s website. The civil rights division recommends civilians contact the Lawyer Referral Service of Central Texas in order to obtain legal representation to help with civil rights complaints.

The Lawyer Referral Service of Central Texas provides legal assistance at reduced cost. According to the group’s website, clients are charged $20 for up to 30 minutes on the first consultation with a lawyer through its service.

The public can additionally file a complaint with the Travis County Sheriff’s Office Internal Affairs division.

Complaints must be filed in person at the internal affairs unit office, located at 5555 Airport Blvd., Austin, between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on Monday through Friday. Complaint forms in English and Spanish can be downloaded off the sheriff’s office website, found here.

The internal affairs unit states complaint investigations generally take 60 days to complete and for the department’s board of disciplinary review to determine any supplemental discipline.


The Williamson County Sheriff’s Office Professional Standards division handles complaints against county law enforcement personnel.

Complaints can be filed through the sheriff’s office’s “Quality Assurance Report Form,” which can be found online here. These reports must be filed in person at the sheriff’s office, located at 508 S. Rock St., Georgetown.

The Williamson County Sheriff’s Office also states civilians can contact the department with complaints over the phone by calling 512-943-1360.


According to state numbers, the Texas Department of Public Safety received 1,148 complaints in 2018. Those complaints resulted in 256 investigations by the office of the inspector general, which oversees policy and law violations by the state’s law-enforcement department.

Civilians can file complaints against Department of Public Safety personnel by submitting a complaint form to the office of the inspector general through mail, fax or email. More information can be found on the DPS website, located here.

Complaints should be mailed to the Texas Department of Public Safety, Office of Inspector General, 13706 Research Blvd., Ste. 100, Austin. Complaints can be faxed to 512-424-5769 or emailed to

While submitting a complaint, the public should write, in a narrative form, a concise statement of the nature of the complaint with all relevant facts, including the name of the DPS employee, if it is known, or any information that will help the office identify the law enforcement official. Civilians submitting complaints additionally need to leave contact information, including an address and phone number, for investigators.
By Iain Oldman
Iain Oldman joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2017 after spending two years in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he covered Pittsburgh City Council. His byline has appeared in PublicSource, WESA-FM and Scranton-Times Tribune. Iain worked as the reporter for Community Impact Newspaper's flagship Round Rock/Pflugerville/Hutto edition and is now working as the editor for the Northwest Austin edition.


Here are the most recent coronavirus updates from Williamson County. (Community Impact staff)
Williamson County reported more than 250 new COVID-19 cases April 9-11

Here are the most recent coronavirus updates from Williamson County.

Romeo's Pizza held its Georgetown groundbreaking April 6. (Courtesy Romeo's Pizza)
Romeo's Pizza coming to Georgetown; Vacancy Brewing opens in South Austin and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.

Photo of a Moderna vaccine vial
Austin Public Health coronavirus vaccine portal opens to all adults April 12

APH will continue outreach efforts to high-priority groups.

Austin Public Health holds a vaccination clinic at the Delco Activity Center in Northeast Austin. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Coronavirus updates from Austin, Travis County; governor bans 'vaccine passports' and more top Central Texas news

Read the most popular business and community news from the past week from Central Texas.

Tavel Bristol-Joseph has started a scholarship fund that will provide $6,000 to two Austin Community College Culinary Arts students and give them opportunity to be mentored by Bristol-Joseph and to stage at one of the Emmer & Rye group's five restaurants. (Courtesy Emmer & Rye)
Austin chef starts scholarship and mentorship program for Austin Community College students

Tavel Bristol-Joseph started the scholarship fund, which will provide $6,000 to two ACC students and give them the opportunity to stage at one of the Emmer & Rye group's five restaurants.

Snow and ice cover the pond on the southeastern side of the Mueller development in East Austin in February. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
After winter storm, Austin puts together a plan for better temporary shelters

The locations, which could be schools, libraries or recreation centers, would be disconnected from traditional infrastructure and be able to sustain operations if the city were to experience widespread power or water outages.

Williamson County added more than 200 new COVID-19 cases April 5-7. (Community Impact staff)
Williamson County adds more than 200 new COVID-19 cases April 5-7

Here is what you need to know today about COVID-19 in Williamson County.

Austin ISD is holding community conversation sessions April 12-May 6. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin ISD community conversation sessions continuing through May 6

The series offers AISD families an opportunity to learn about the district’s strategic plan and ongoing budget planning.

Amenities include coworking spaces, a pool courtyard, a resident coffee bar and a fitness center. (Courtesy StreetLights Residential)
377-unit multifamily development under construction in Northwest Austin

The Lakeline-area project is expected to be complete in October.

Owners Shae (left) and King (right) Magik moved their shop to the Hill Country Galleria in Novemeber 2020. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austinites run creative fashion house at Magik

Magik offers branding, photography services beyond clothing and accessories.

A resident at EdenHill Communities receives their second dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine. (Lauren Canterberry/Community Impact Newspaper)
Amid the struggle to get vaccinated, these Austin moms have helped over 3,900 people get appointments

The women volunteer their time searching for hard-to-find time slots that often become available in the middle of the night.