Austin, Texas Police Chief Art Acevedo has been reprimanded, stripped of five days’ pay and warned his job is in jeopardy after his boss said he didn’t follow orders to stop discussing the controversial police shooting of an unarmed teen in February.
At the center of the penalty against the chief, City Manager Marc Ott said Acevedo had been insubordinate, according to documents obtained by the American-Statesman and KVUE-TV.
But Ott also laid bare his ongoing concerns about Acevedo’s performance unrelated to the shooting, warning in an April 15 memo that he could be fired for future misconduct. Ott wrote in the blistering two-page memo that he had previously documented “operation and judgment concerns” about Acevedo in August 2011, but didn’t specify what those concerns were.
In the aftermath of the shooting, Acevedo made comments that the police union claimed showed he had prejudged the case and potentially violated the officer’s right to a fair investigation.
“Some APD personnel who were interviewed during the course of this review expressed concern that they would suffer retaliation from the department as a result of their involvement in this matter,” Ott wrote. “You are reminded that the city has a policy of zero tolerance for retaliation.”
The documents show publicly for the first time dissatisfaction among some in city management for an official who has been arguably the most visible in local government since arriving in Austin in 2007. It also reveals years of strain between Ott and Acevedo, who was hired from the California Highway Patrol by then-City Manager Toby Futrell.
The suspension comes after Ott in September gave Acevedo a 5-percent pay raise and a new separation agreement granting up to six months of severance pay should he be fired. In return, Acevedo withdrew from the San Antonio Police Department’s search for a new chief. Acevedo now earns about $206,086, and the five days without pay would mean a loss of about $4,000.
Ott also ordered that, as an additional condition of the discipline, Acevedo must get prior permission from the city manager’s office for future work-related travel.