New details about the possible future of Austin Police Chief Brian Manley are expected to emerge Thursday, as City Manager Spencer Cronk is set to appear before an Austin City Council committee and update members on his response to calls for the chief's ouster.
Exactly when Cronk will make and announce a decision—whether to fire, demote, or leave him in place—remains to be seen, said Council Member Jimmy Flannigan, who chairs the Public Safety Committee that will be briefed Thursday.
Council members are expected to ask Cronk for an update on his thoughts regarding Manley both in the open meeting and in an executive session. Manley has also been asked to brief the committee on police response to the protests.
"Honestly do not know if Spencer is ready to make a decision by Thursday, or if there's a process he's using to arrive at that decision," Flannigan told Austonia this week. "And it's incredibly frustrating for the public. But to be fair to Spencer, his job is harder than mine. He's very thoughtful and deliberative. That's the type of leader he is, and that's the type of leader you want in government because the decisions we make impact everyone, no matter who you vote for."
Manley, who will mark 30 years with the Austin Police Department in August, is also eligible for retirement. He has not indicated what his plans are in that regard.
Although the committee only has four members, most of the council—many of whom tried to get Cronk to outline his plans during last week's council meeting—is expected to attend. No action items are on the agenda.
Cronk is under immense pressure to make an announcement soon on Manley in the wake of violent clashes between police and anti-brutality demonstrators over the past few weeks.
Cronk, whose position overseeing the city's 13,000 employees makes him responsible for decisions regarding Manley's job, was directed by the Austin City Council last Thursday to testify on that and other plans for police reform during the first meeting of the newly formed Public Safety Committee.
Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk has announced actions to begin addressing inequities in policing, focused on reso… https://t.co/c7TZfXoJg3— City of Austin (@City of Austin)1592434319.0
The committee meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Thursday. See the agenda here.
Last week, the City Council unanimously passed a series of resolutions calling for an overhaul of police budget, practices and leadership.
On Wednesday, Cronk sent a memo to council members outlining his initial plans to begin implementing some of those directives. The memo did not address his thoughts on Manley, but it outlined other initiatives, including delaying a cadet class, eliminating positions at APD and creating a new civil rights division, among other moves.
The proposed budget for 2021, Cronk said, will include the not only new directives by the council "but also the spirit of the conversations occurring in our community."
Flannigan said Thursday's briefing at committee could be interpreted as "a little bit of expectation management for everybody" regarding the timing and process of systemic changes.
"The things you say in a march are important to initiate action," Flannigan said. "And once you've initiated the action, it then becomes incumbent upon myself and my colleagues make it effective."
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