Acevedo smart to stand with activists

Letters to the editor: Feb. 26, 2016

Re: Feb. 17 article, “Austin police union leader blasts Acevedo’s appearance with activists.”

Ken Casaday’s criticism of Police Chief Art Acevedo for standing with Black Lives Matter activists, and his urging to move criticism of police to “behind closed doors,” was really urging the Austin Police Department to take a step backward to the Paleolithic era of policing.

The Department of Justice investigated the Austin Police Department from 2007 to 2011. Early in its investigation, it praised Acevedo for “dramatically increasing community relations.” In the DOJ’s more recent review of Ferguson, Miss., it said Ferguson Police Department’s failure to engage the community increased the likelihood of discriminatory policing. In short, isolation begets polarization, because a police department that is not meaningfully engaged with the community develops an “us versus them” mentality.

Acevedo was smart to appear with the Black Lives Matter activists. He needs to build trust to maintain productive engagement with the community; community engagement is an essential ingredient for us to avoid future tragedies. If Casaday wants to weigh in, he should look for a seat at the table, not try to kick the table over.