Interim Austin Police Department Chief Joseph Chacon has been officially promoted to chief, following a six month search that began when former chief Brian Manley resigned March 28.
Chacon’s promotion was approved by City Manager Spencer Cronk October 1, after he was confirmed by City Council on a 9-2 vote just before 10 p.m. September 30. Chacon was select from a final pool of three that included one Black male and one Black female candidate. Some have expressed concerns that naming Chacon, who has served in the department for more than 20 years, represents the city’s commitment to maintaining the status quo. Notably, the Austin Justice Coalition has vocally opposed his promotion, citing his complicity with the “racism, misogyny, unaccountable violence and right-wing sentiments” many feel have plagued the department for decades.
Chacon considers himself a reformer. He told city council he will oppose population-based police staffing levels, instead deferring to the community to indicate the amount of policing they feel is appropriate; pursue alternatives to police responding to non-emergency calls, including activating citizen responders; and increasing the visibility of Victims Services personnel and elevating their status within the department. He has also said he will remain open to the idea of including civilians on investigation teams responding to complaints of police misconduct and has promised to resign if the city issues a No-Confidence vote against him. The latter is a particularly important priority for the Austin Justice Coalition, which led the charge against former Chief Brian Manley in the summer of 2020. Under Texas law, a police chief cannot be fired, and must resign to be removed from his or her post.
“We need change agents. You need people who are going to lead from the front … even if there is resistance,” Chacon said during last night’s City Council meeting. “I think I have already started doing that with the Austin Police Department.”