The Austin Police Department (APD) announces a new Critical Incident Public Release policy which requires the release of relevant video footage of a critical incident within 10 business days of its occurrence. The content of this public release may include body worn camera and digital in-car video footage. The goal is to publicly release critical incident video footage in a timely manner utilizing a streamlined process. A live news conference will provide preliminary information regarding the critical incident investigation and the initial public viewing of the content. This conference will be available via a livestream accessible on APD’s social media platforms. The Department continues to demonstrate its commitment to transparency with a focus on building trust within our community through information sharing.
The purpose of this policy is to share vital, timely information with the community while maintaining the integrity of the ongoing investigation. During this process, the Chief of Police will consult with the Travis County District Attorney’s Office and the Office of Police Oversight to determine what information and video footage may be subject for release. If the Chief of Police determines a release will not occur, or a delay of the release is necessary, the Department will send a statement notifying the public of the release status and reason for the delay.
If necessary, released materials may be redacted and edited to protect privacy rights and to avoid the release of information that is prohibited state law. Such redactions or edits will not affect the depiction of events presented in the video.
This policy defines “critical incidents” as:
- Officer-involved shootings, including unintentional discharge while in the course of duty or in response to a call, regardless of whether a person was hit by gunfire and even if no allegation of misconduct is made
- A use of force resulting in death or serious bodily injury as defined by Section 1.07, Texas Penal Code
- All deaths while an arrestee/detainee is in the custodial care of the Department
- Any other police encounter where the Chief of Police determines release of video furthers a law enforcement purpose
- This General Order does not include or apply to officer-involved shootings of an animal, an unintentional discharge during pre-shift equipment checks, or during training/qualifications on the firing range
Since 2019, APD has been working on a policy regarding the public release of critical incident videos and other materials with community stakeholders, including members of the public. The development of this new policy is possible through a partnership of various stakeholders including; the Office of Police Oversight, Community Working Group, City of Austin City Administration, Travis County District Attorney’s Office, and APD’s Special Investigation Unit.
View APD policies and procedures at https://austintexas.gov/page/apd-general-orders