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APD unveils 3 new policy revisions

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TWC News: APD unveils 3 new policy revisions
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Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo announced three new policy changes for his department.

The first revision directs officers to “exercise good judgment” before using deadly force against a moving car, and instructs them to not get in the way of a car in an effort to stop it.

Acevedo said during the press conference Tuesday the changes did not stem from the officer-involved shooting last year where one man was killed another was injured when they fled police in a car and almost ran the officers over.

"Now I want to make it real clear that this policy change is not in response to a specific incident in the past," Acevedo said. "In that case you remember, both of those officers did try to get out of the way."

Policy change number two addresses consent to search a vehicle. Officers must ask permission and have a video and audio recording of their request, and must get the vehicle driver to sign a consent form.

Also, a supervisor must sign off on a search.

"They must articulate with a supervisor why they want to ask for consent and only upon approval of a supervisor can they then proceed," Acevedo said.

The third police revision concerns people thought to be mentally unstable. Now, when dealing with a mentally ill subject, APD officers must dispatch a minimum of four officers along with a sergeant. One of those officers will have progressive mental health training, EMS will be called, and such calls will be given priority treatment.

"We really believe that this response protocol will enhance the safety of our emotionally disturbed citizens," Acevedo said.

The new procedures were applauded by people who are often police critics.

"It's to the credit to the Chief and to the department of its willingness to make these changes and the willingness to make our community better," Jim Harrington with the Texas Civil Rights Project said.

Nelson Linder with the local chapter of the NAACP was also happy with the changes.

"I feel good that these changes have been made,” he said. “We look forward to making more improvements as well to make this a safer city."

It's now up to the more than 1,600 officers on the street to embrace their new duties.

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