City police monitor’s annual report finds room for improvement

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The city of Austin’s Office of the Police Monitor has completed its 2010 Annual Report, which found that less experienced police officers are more likely to receive complaint calls, and that African-Americans and Hispanics are more likely to have their vehicles searched by Austin police than whites.

“Our job is to watch over the complaint process and also generally to monitor the Austin Police Department to see if there are any sort of areas in which improvements can be made, and better communication between the public and the police department,” said Police Monitor Margo Frasier.

After the compiling the report, the police monitor will submit recommendations to the chief of police, city manager and the city council.

The police monitor heard 1,497 complaints in 2010; a 9-percent decrease from 2009.

The report found a greater likelihood of a complaint being filed when a less-experienced officer makes the stop.

The report found that although all ethnic groups share an equal likelihood of being stopped by police, African-Americans and Hispanics are much more likely to be searched.

While Anglos face a 1-in-19 chance of having their vehicles searched, African-Americans face a 1-in-8 chance and Hispanics face a 1-in-7 chance. Frasier said the groups more likely to be searched are not more likely to have contraband found in their vehicles.