Skip to comments.Austin police chief gives himself a deadline
Posted on 01/29/2004 4:52:31 AM PST by Arrowhead1952
Knee says he will improve relations between police and African American community by September, or he will resign
Wednesday, January 28, 2004
Austin Police Chief Stan Knee told the American-Statesman on Wednesday that he is giving himself a deadline to improve the relationship between the Police Department and the African American community, or he will resign.
Knee said he will work to restore relations to where they were before June 2002, when police shot and killed 23-year-old Sophia King, a mentally ill African American woman who police said was threatening her landlord with a butcher knife. Knee said he'll give himself until September or "certainly by the end of the year" to see signs of improvement.
"If I can't regain the trust of the entire community, people won't have to ask me to resign," Knee said after an afternoon news conference at the Austin Police Department.
Earlier Wednesday, 17 Baptist ministers demanded the resignations of Knee, City Manager Toby Futrell and Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle at a press conference at Greater Calvary Baptist Church.
Futrell, who has been city manager for two years, said she hadn't heard the request directly.
"It shows me there's a great deal of anger and frustration in the community," said Futrell, who has the power to fire the police chief. "We are going to be able to build trust, or we're not."
Earle did not attend the news conference and later declined to comment.
Futrell expressed confidence that Knee can accomplish that goal, saying: "He is the kind of guy who can help us reach this solution."
The remarks came on the final day of a four-part American-Statesman series showing that Austin police were 100 percent more likely to use force against blacks than against whites between 1998 and 2003. Police were 25 percent more likely to use force against Hispanics than against whites during that period. During that period, 11 people died in use of force incidents all but one were minorities.
Knee said he plans to decrease the amount of force officers use but has not determined a statistical goal.
He said 88 percent of the vehicle searches that officers conduct during traffic stops turn up no evidence of wrongdoing. He pledged to reduce the number of searches by 20 percent in 2004 and an additional 20 percent in 2005.
In addition, he wants to expand the use of Taser stun guns in place of firearms and increase the number of shotguns that use beanbag ammunition, not bullets.
Knee offered an apology to the African American community for the "history of my profession." He referred to Rosa Parks, the woman whose refusal to relinquish her bus seat to a white passenger in Alabama helped kick off the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
"Historically, local governments have used police departments to enforce laws that were inappropriate, laws that enforce segregation, laws that kept children from attending school, laws that kept people from voting," Knee said.
At a morning news conference, pastors from the Austin Baptist Ministers' Union said officials have not done enough to curb police use of force against African Americans.
"It is not enough to say that an officer followed department procedure when the procedure is at question. The results speak for themselves," said the Rev. Ivie Rich, president of the Baptist ministers union.
The ministers also reiterated their call for Earle's resignation. In the past two months, Earle's office declined to bring cases against two indicted Austin police officers, Michael Olsen and Scott Glasgow, citing lack of evidence and, in Glasgow's case, a poorly written grand jury indictment.
On Tuesday, Austin Mayor Will Wynn said he will call for "street-level" meetings to discuss race relations between the community and law enforcement in light of the newspaper's analysis.
Also Wednesday, Austin Police Association President Mike Sheffield said officers are angry about the Statesman's series.
"We aren't murderers. We aren't racist," Sheffield said. "We are doing the very best job we can with the resources the mayor, council and city manager provide us."
#1. is that the Rev. Ivie Rich (president of the Baptist ministers union) threatened violence if the situation does'n change. Well DUH!
#2. item is that there were many times the police officers were threatened by the individuals being stopped by police.
First, welcome to FR. Great place to learn the truth.
The ministers who are "inciting" violence, should be trying to get the criminals out of east Austin. That area they are talking about has one of the highest drug dealing in Austin.
Another fact not reported by the Austin Un-American Ultra-Liberal Rag, is that Austin has one of the lowest number of incidents involving police and the use of force on citizens, minority or otherwise.
I feel the only reason the paper started this series, was to further strain race relations and sell more papers.
As long as "mentally ill African American" is more important than "police shot and killed 23-year-old Sophia King, a woman who police said was threatening her landlord with a butcher knife" any attempt to "improve relationships" is doomed and should be. Only when minorities stop using their race as a defense for criminal behavior can there be "improved relationships".
That is a BIG problem here in Austin and Travis county. I don't care who, what, when, where any minority individual in Austin gets arrested, that is the first thing the liberal lawyers will bring up at the trials.
Well said and the real truth. Jesse Jacka$$ was here to "preach" to the Austin PD about this issue several months ago -- What a moron....
If not, I demand the clergy step down and issue public apologies to the people of Austin for failing in their mission.
What a great analysis of the entire situation. Crime has been a big problem in that area, and the clergy there should clean their own house, before blasting the city's leadership.
The way I heard it, Ms. King had the landlady on the ground and was standing over her with the knife drawn when she was shot. The officer realized there were only two options - shoot Ms. King now or let Ms. King stab the landlady. If you don't know that, you really don't understand what that case was all about. She was going to kill the landlady if the police hadn't stopped her.
I've been listening to some of the comments by black leaders on radio/tv and whenever the question is asked "what do you want done to change things", they answer with vague mumbo-jumbo. Even they can't tell you what the police are doing wrong.
But don't you just love the chief's groveling and proposed solutions? First he apologizes for a bunch of things no present member of the APD is doing like preventing minorities from voting or going to school. I haven't seen this sort of political groveling since Trent Lott went on BET. Then his answer is less searches, less intervention, weaker weapons.
Brilliant. If the blacks don't force him to resign, maybe the rest of us should.
That was exactly what happened. Same thing with the officer who killed the man in the car. Officer Glasgow was being dragged by the car. The number of shots should probably be in question.
I agree with ValerieUSA in post #8 more than I do with Chief Knee. Don't know if you listen to the talk shows on any Austin stations, but that issue has never been brought up. Why haven't the black clergy cleaned up the mess in their neighborhoods?