Austin police chief Art Acevedo is celebrating his five year anniversary today.
Acevedo has more than his fair share of critics, some of whom have branded him as a “rock star chief” that never shies away from a TV camera.
But among his officers, he is generally regarded as a “cop’s cop.” It’s not uncommon to see Acevedo out on a late night detail with his officers rounding up obnoxious drunks on 6th street. This guy has never been one to sit behind a desk or simply commute between police headquarters and Austin City Hall.
Aside from his skills on the street, he has also proven to be politically savvy and well versed in public relations.
“Police departments often have their issues and Chief Acevedo has navigated them with intelligence and sensitivity. Several times I have seen him shaking hands with and even hugging people who are frequent critics. He effectively juggles many challenges and over time progress has been made in many areas,” said Austin crime statistician and krimelabb.com founder Jack Darby.
“I just hope we can hold onto this valuable asset.”
Acevedo entertained one serious job offer from the Dallas Police Department while in Austin, but turned it down.
“People like to tease (me), ‘Hey you’re the rockstar Chief’, look, I’m not a fool, I know I’m one incident away from looking for a job. That’s why you always keep your options open. And sadly, we live in a time in our history where we are in a ‘got you’ mentality where your body of work is not what matters. I take it with a grain of salt, because I know that at any given moment I could be looking for a job,” Acevedo told KLBJ.
2012 has been an especially challenging year for the chief and the department. APD was devastated in April after Officer Jaime Padron was executed by a drugged-out software engineer at a North Austin Walmart. Acevedo handled Padron’s death with dignity and treated the suspected killer just like any other criminal.
His handling of a less serious controversy involving the shooting of a citizen’s dog named Cisco in East Austin brought international condemnation that not even Acevedo could quell.
The department has also been dogged by several controversial shootings and claims that APD uses a heavy hand when dealing with the black community.
APD was also heavily criticized for allowing Occupy Austin protesters to trash Austin City Hall for months on end at taxpayer expense.
But when you’re at the top, there is simply no way that you can please everyone. Acevedo often uses his deft public relations skills to try and make everyone feel like they got something or that he has at least listened to them. Not many people in his position can do that.
Acevedo arrived on the job five years ago in the middle of a Department of Justice investigation into the department’s alleged violation of people’s constitutional rights. The department was eventually cleared, but the investigation allowed Acevedo to step in and revamp the department.
Here’s how Acevedo explained it to KXAN: