„There are hundreds of people in the city who receive more than police officers and they receive salary increases every year and don`t need to negotiate about it,“ Casaday said. If the city council listens to activists and lets the contract expire at the end of the year, Mitchell says it would force Austin to account with the police. „In 20 years, this city has not had a meaningful dialogue about how we should exercise police surveillance,“ she told the Observer. „Every time the City renegotiated this contract, there simply wasn`t this big public debate on these topics. Five years ago, the world was another place. This is our first round of negotiations after Ferguson. DeLord`s book also warns union leaders to be prepared for what he calls „the most dramatic police reform movement in the United States in more than a hundred years.“ He seems to accept that change is inevitable, and he advises unions to get what they can: „Bend before you break.“ Austin is just the youngest city where activists have attempted to reform a police department by targeting their union`s collective bargaining agreement. In cities where police unions are still local political loaches, such as San Antonio, these efforts have failed. But in the liberal capital of Texas, the union appears to have been forced to adopt DeLord`s „flexion before breaking“ approach. Moore says Austin police currently have oversight without any responsibility. He is referring to a recent presentation made by Campaign Zero to community groups throughout the city showing that Austin police officers kill more people per capita than any other major Texas city, and that blacks make up 8 percent of Austin`s population, but 12 percent of APD traffic stops and half of the unrested people shot dead by Austin police officers in recent years. (APD did not respond to the Observer`s questions about its civic surveillance process or the cases mentioned in this story.) DeLord is certainly able to understand what has changed for police unions. This year, he was the Austin Police Association`s negotiator when it provided the latest version of its five-year contract with the city.
While police union collective agreements impose wage increases and social benefits for civil servants, in some cities, such as Austin, they also dictate everything from disciplinary rules to supervision and accountability. Austin struck the contract 17 years ago, when the police union agreed to some sort of surveillance virtually unknown in other Texas police departments, including an independent police monitor appointed by the city and a citizens` body that was tasked with investigating internal investigations into police killings and allegations of misconduct by public servants. . . .