Art Acevedo turns down Austin police role after hiring backlash but still bound for Texas capital

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Tuesday, January 23, 2024
Former Houston police Chief Art Acevedo hired for new Austin City Hall job, councilmembers express disappointment
Former Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo is heading to the state capitol for a new position that will oversee the Austin police department.

AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) -- Art Acevedo is bound for Austin but is now without a job at his old police department.

The former chief of the Houston Police Department announced on Tuesday he declined to return to the Austin Police Department in an interim capacity to be a resource to Chief Robin Henderson.

The video above is from a previous report.

KUT-FM in Austin reported that he was to create new recruiting strategies, review patrolling operations, and improve police academy training for APD.

In an Instagram post, Acevedo said it was clear that his hiring "has become a distraction from the critical work ahead" for the city, the police department, and the police officers' union.

"Unfortunately, politics and power struggles have hindered our efforts to create real positive improvements for the people of this city. I firmly believe that if we are to build a future together, we cannot afford to blame others and point fingers," Acevedo wrote in part.

Acevedo served as Austin's police chief from 2007 to 2016 before becoming Houston's police chief. Since then, he's worked in Miami and Colorado and served as a CNN on-air analyst.

He has served as interim police chief for Aurora, a suburb outside Denver, for the last 13 months.

In a memo to council members, interim City Manager Jesús Garza said there were challenges facing the Austin Police Department and that he believed "additional resources are needed to better support the department, our interim police chief, and her management team to ensure success."

Mayor Kirk Watson expressed his support for the decision in an emailed statement. He emphasized that Acevedo's police background can strengthen the relationship between ADP, City Hall, and the community.

However, KUT reported that the decision was made without community or council input.

Last Friday, Councilmember Vanessa Fuentes posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, expressing her surprise about Acevedo's appointment.

Councilmembers Paige Ellis, Alison Alter, and Chito Vela also expressed concerns with Acevedo's sudden hiring.

KUT reported that Ellis felt this was a bad move and a step in the wrong direction. She highlighted the fact that while Acevedo was police chief, hundreds of rape kits went untested.

Alter called it a slap in the face for the survivors, advocates, and others who have worked to make changes in the system around sexual assault.

Despite turning down the job, Acevedo stated that he is still moving to Austin to rejoin his family next week.

KUT-FM in Austin contributed to this report.