Local NewsCity of Austin Names Interim Police Chief, Begins Search for Permanent Replacement

Austin Police Department Chief Brian Manley is set to retire officially on March 28.
March 22, 2021
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With current Austin Police Department (APD) Chief Brian Manley set to retire on March 28, the city has begun the search for his replacement.

City Manager Spencer Cronk stated of the search, “The role of Police Chief is incredibly important not just to the City organization, but to our community as a whole.”

“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.”

APD Assistant Chief Joseph Chacon has been tapped to serve as the interim chief until a successor is named. Chacon has been with the department since 1998.

Manley announced his impending retirement back on February 12 — shortly after his 30th anniversary with APD.

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The leadership change comes after multiple years of soft conflict with the Austin City Council that has become progressively more progressive in its policy and rhetoric — not the least of which is the $150 million budget cut and redirection of last summer or the homeless camping ban recission.

City council’s concerted effort to “reimagine” its policing tracks with similar movements in some urban centers across the country. Austin is historically a low-crime city, but since coronavirus has faced a violent crime wave like many other cities.

Cronk continued, “The Reimagining Public Safety process, budget decoupling and department restructuring and, most recently, the announcement of Chief Brian Manley’s retirement, provide a unique opportunity to work with our community to bring new leadership that aligns with our values and our commitment to equity and community engagement.”

While there has been some fringe talk of disbanding APD entirely among activists, none of the city council members have pushed the idea to that extreme — like the Minneapolis city council did last year.

Nonetheless, the tension between city officials and its police department has crescendoed during Manley’s time, and since the protests, some of which became riots, of last summer, he has widely been considered a dead man walking.

About the search process, Cronk added, “My goal throughout is to ensure our residents are heard in who they want to see lead our police department.”

The hiring process is scheduled to last through July or August and the city has employed headhunting firm Ralph Andersen & Associates to spearhead the effort.

Austin residents can submit public feedback here.

Cronk concluded, “I am looking forward to engaging with all of you to ensure our next Police Chief will align with our collective vision for public safety and will be instrumental in leading us through, and taking us beyond, the transformational change we have already embarked on with community.”

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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.

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