Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo spoke with KUT's Kate McGee this morning, saying that the department will assist the Dallas Police Department in any necessary capacity and that APD will remain on high-staffing levels for the remainder of the summer. At a press availability this afternoon, he reiterated that staffing plan, but also denounced comments from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick that blamed the Black Lives Matter movement for Thursday night’s shootings.
“They have to be on guard, but I don’t want them to hyper-vigilant or over-vigilant because that’s not healthy either. We’ve actually moved our organization to 100 percent staffing on-patrol posture effective yesterday after we learned of these attacks. And we’re going to stay on that posture as we continue to monitor and evaluate the threat here in Austin," he said.
Acevedo expects the APD to remain at high staffing levels for the rest of the summer.
“Like the rest of the country I’ve seen an increase in violent crime so far this year. July and August are the most violent months in the City of Austin as they are in most of the country for a lot of reasons. So, we’re going to have an increased police presence to respond and disrupt these acts of violence across our community.”
Acevedo says he was attending an Austin protest of the police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile in East Austin when he heard the news.
“I was at Givens Park when I got word, listening to our community exercise their First Amendment rights and their feeling as to some of the questionable shootings that have occurred recently. A lot of questions need to be answered. You know Austin is a city that, historically, our activists work with the police and are continuing to work with the police to have better outcomes for the community and to have a strong relationship between the police department and the community we serve even stronger. So, we’re going to continue to do what we do best which is keeping Austin the safest big city in the country.”
He says the Austin Police Department will help Dallas police in whatever way they need.
“I’ve offered the Police Chief in Dallas any assistance he needs from us, whether it’s victim counselors, whatever they need, investigators, detectives, officers to come and help them when they have to bury five of their colleagues when they get a chance to pause and mourn. But Dallas is showing what we all know: that police officers – the very, very vast majority – are dedicated professionals; that when the going gets tough, they don’t get to shut shop. They don’t get to close for the day. They don’t get to close for the week. They’re still out there doing what American police officers do, what this generation of police officers do… I think it’s a testament to dedication of professionals and the American cops.”
Four Dallas police and one Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) officer were killed Thursday night in what police are calling a coordinated attack as a demonstration was wrapping up downtown. Seven officers were injured along with two civilians. One suspect, identified as Micah Xavier Johnson was killed when police detonated a bomb delivered by robot.
When asked if APD has a similar explosive device the Dallas Police Department used, he said at the time of the interview he did not know how they ended the incident. He didn’t want to comment on what they used, but he did say he “can’t imagine Dallas would have something that most other big city police departments don’t have.”
At the press conference this afternoon, Acevedo didn’t elaborate on his comments regarding the circumstances of Johnson’s death.
However, he did shame Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, suggesting his remarks earlier in the day painted with a “broad brush.”
“This has nothing to do with the black community. These are the actions of one individual, and I’m holding one individual accountable – and that’s the person who carried out the attack.”
You can view Acevedo's full press conference on the Austin Police Department's Periscope page.