At this point, it’s not terribly surprising to find out a police department is filled with the same kind of people that see a virus as the perfect excuse to bust out some racism.
KVUE reports that an investigation into the Austin Police Department in Texas has revealed a culture where instances of racism, sexism and homophobia are prevalent. Lisa Tatum of Tatum Law Partners led the investigation and published her findings on April 17 in a 46-page report. A virtual press conference was held between city officials and activist groups on Monday to discuss the findings and outline what needs to be done next.
“Through all of these interviews it became clear that issues of race lie just below the surface,” the report said. “Reports came to us, from different ranks, races and genders, advising of the fact that the racist and sexist name-calling and use of derogatory terms associated with race and sex persists.”
Multiple city officials have spoken out on the report. Austin City Council member Jimmy Flanagan was disturbed by how racism and white supremacy were embedded within the highest levels of leadership. “That is damning not only on the department but on the officers who are doing the work of protecting the public. [They] are trying to do the right thing, but their executive leadership does not have their back.”
Mayor pro tem Delia Garza has called out APD for its lack of involvement in the city’s efforts to improve inclusion and diversity. “I have not seen APD step up and become the partners our community needs them to be,” Garza said. She also called for APD to institute a hiring freeze.
“I am confident seeing this report, consistently hearing from constituents, that now is not the best time to be bringing new employees into the APD,” Garza said. “I hope this investigation brings the pressure to address these issues and there need to be systematic changes made.”
The Austin Police Department issued a statement to KVUE on Monday in response to the report. “The Austin Police Department remains committed to working within our department, as well as within the community, to address the issues brought forward in the Tatum Law Independent Investigation in a collaborative and solution-based approach.” the statement read. While the report revealed a disturbing culture at APD, it did not find that the department violated any policies that could be punishable by law.