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Austin Police Want Identities of Online Critics 320

An anonymous reader writes "The police chief in Austin, TX is not happy that people are voicing their disapproval of him via anonymous blog posts and comments. He claims that 'such posts erode public trust in the department.' The chief wants to find out who these people are and investigate and prosecute such posters for statements he deems defamatory and libelous. Interestingly, the article notes, 'the Associated Press has reported that most of the cases fail because statements of opinion are protected under the First Amendment.' One wonders if this is a legitimate problem that warrants public money to investigate, or whether it's that the people who deserve the most public scrutiny don't like it when others take issue with their job performance."
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Austin Police Want Identities of Online Critics

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  • He's A Jerk (Score:5, Funny)

    by GrahamCox ( 741991 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @08:19AM (#29475731) Homepage
    That police chief in Austin, Texas? - He's a Jerk. So sue me!
    • by Art Acevedo ( 1640589 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @08:28AM (#29475753)
      Yes, I'll do that GrahamCox
      • Re:He's A Jerk (Score:4, Insightful)

        by GrahamCox ( 741991 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @11:05AM (#29476447) Homepage
        Feel free, I'm a British Citizen, resident in Australia. I doubt his jurisdiction applies, even if in his own head he runs the world! In fact, I, on the other side of the world, now know that this guy *is* a jerk, which previously I didn't, so his jerk-like tendencies are now known globally. I think it's known as the Streisand Effect.

        I encourage as many people to criticise him online as possible; he can't haul in everyone. It's the only sane response to an insane individual.
        • Well, apparently British libel law allows libel suits against people who aren't British posting to servers which aren't in Britain []. So why shouldn't the opposite be true as well?
          • Re:He's A Jerk (Score:4, Interesting)

            by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) * on Saturday September 19, 2009 @12:51PM (#29477075) Journal
            No it only applies if a "reasonable person" would take it to be true and of course I'm entitled to my opinion that the sherriff is a tin-pot dictator with delusions of granduer.

            The libel/defamation laws in UK/AU are designed to make infuential people/organisations responsible for the consequenses of false accusations they make in public. Americans might see that as censorship. Like the OP I'm also a British born Aussie and see it more along the lines of enforcing common descency and keeping the highly politicised mass-media on a leash.

            Sir Arthur C Clarke used the laws to force a tabloid to retract allegations of pedophilia against him. He refused to accept his knighthood for the 2yrs it took to clear his name through the courts. However these laws do not apply in parliment, "parlimentry privlage" means politicians can bullshit to their hearts content in the house.

            In other words I can say I think the sheriff is a dickhead and quote him out of context to demonstrate it, but I can't put words in his mouth or lie about his actions. OTOH it's doubtfull a "reasonable person" would accept a random slashdot post at face value.
    • by buchner.johannes ( 1139593 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @08:42AM (#29475805) Homepage Journal

      *facepalm* you're supposed to post anonymously

    • Re:He's A Jerk (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 19, 2009 @08:57AM (#29475869)

      He IS a jerk. His list of jerk-like actions include:

      1) Authorizing police officers to draw blood on the spot, with or without your cooperation (using a contract phlebotomist of course) if you are pulled over under suspicion of DUI.
      2) Constant and aggressive speed traps all over the city (I recently observed motorcycle police tailing people into a school zone and nabbing them if they didn't hit the brakes immediately).
      3) Increased patrolling and harassing motorcycle riders for helmet law violations during the ROT Motorcycle Rally. It should be noted that these were primarily older white middle class people. However, when Highland Mall requested police security for the Texas Relays their request was denied by the chief. The Texas Relays attract mostly black youth, which in itself is not a problem. The problem is that the entourage they attract has in the past loitered in the mall, intimidated shoppers, and in fact resulted in fights breaking out inside the mall. The chief denied the mall owner's request because black community leaders would have crucified him had he not done so.
      4) Hiring so many police officers that it becomes a strain on the city budget. This year's police academy class was almost suspended except that existing officers agreed to forego their raises. The chief is a big fan of "preventative patrolling" (but only in the form of speed traps, not in truly high-crime areas like Lamar & Rundberg). Methinks this must be tied to the budget strain. Plus, Mr. Acevedo wouldn't want to be accused of racial profiling in a primarily Mexican immigrant neighborhood.

      The country should also know that an Austin police officer recently shot a young black man in the back of the head while he was fleeing. Gee, I can't imagine what the young man must've been afraid of! As you might expect, the police officer was essentially let off the hook.

      • Re:He's A Jerk (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 19, 2009 @09:08AM (#29475923)

        FYI, posting anonymously because APD fucking scares me. This once-peaceful town is morphing into a police-state before my very eyes. It should also be noted that Austin is run by Progressives, and prides itself on being a model for other cities. We're only a few steps away from police checkpoints throughout the city. From environmental laws so strict that only the mega-rich can build anything, to police harassment of citizens, this place is becoming a microcosm of fascism. Ironic for a place that prides itself on being so liberal, tolerant, and "weird." Remember folks, we're trying to be a model city. Expect to see this crap coming your way soon.

        A Deeply Concerned Austin Resident

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by drinkypoo ( 153816 )

        Texas is basically the worst state in the nation for speeding tickets. It got so bad that the state legislature passed a law saying that a given town could only make a certain percentage of its income by writing tickets!

        P.S. A "speed trap" is where you estimate speed based on distance and time. I don't know about Texas, but it's illegal in California. Being parked just behind a speed limit sign which is itself invisible until you are on top of it in Johnson City isn't illegal, it just makes you a big fuckin

        • Re:He's A Jerk (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 19, 2009 @10:09AM (#29476171)

          It got so bad that the state legislature passed a law saying that a given town could only make a certain percentage of its income by writing tickets!

          Of course that law has holes in it big enough to drive a fleet of 18-wheelers through.

          Only "ticket revenue" counts. "Court Fees" don't count. So what they do now, essentially, is that you get dragged in, you're not allowed to plead not-guilty without being there in person (not even sending a legal representative is allowed in most towns/counties, a deliberate method for fucking over out-of-towners).

          But they offer you either to "take defensive driving and pay a court fee" or "take deferred adjudication and pay a court fee." Oddly enough, the court fees are actually slightly-more-expensive than the ticket would normally be, except that you don't get reported in to your insurance as being "guilty" of a traffic infraction if you go that route.

          Oh, and Texas isn't the only state in the nation to do this. Cops everywhere (Arkansas is actually worse than Texas, as is Louisiana) target out-of-state plates.

          • And let's not forget that due process goes out the window in traffic court.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by denobug ( 753200 )
            I'd pay the fine they want if they would let me select deferred adjudication without having to appear in person and/or having legal representations. I just want the tickets off my records!
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by jmerlin ( 1010641 )
          "Speed trap" also refers to a place where police routinely camp and very strictly enforce a speed limit because it's very easy to "accidentally" be going over it. I'd say, "speed trollin" is more accurate. However, we have many tiny little 1000 person cities in TX on your way from say.. Austin to Dallas.. and if you go through one of them at 3:30 AM going from 70 on a highway to 40 in-town within 600 ft (note, the "speed slows" warning is roughly 600 feet from the actual 40mph sign) meaning you MUST brak
        • by maharb ( 1534501 )

          No, a speed trap is where a officer sits at a change in speed limit in order to enforce the change in speed limit. It is often viewed as a way to trap people unfamiliar with an area who don't see the sign of the lower speed limit. Often regarded as bullshit Most often speed traps are used in smaller towns as a source of outside revenue.

          It seems big cities have tried to hijack the definition to include a bunch of other bullshit but the real definition is nabbing people at a change of speed limit that is

          • No, a speed trap is where a officer sits at a change in speed limit in order to enforce the change in speed limit. It is often viewed as a way to trap people unfamiliar with an area who don't see the sign of the lower speed limit.

            In the context of California, the GP is correct. California has a specific definition of speed traps and they are illegal. CA law restricts the speed limits that can be imposed (must be based on traffic surveys -- if not survey based RADAR can't be used to enforce) and the method

        • Texas is basically the worst state in the nation for speeding tickets.

          I can't vouch to it being the worst, but it's certainly bad.

          When I lived in Austin for about five years, I've learned to drive under the speed limit when going under a bridge. Those patrol bikes love to camp out under underneath them in the shadows and behind foliage. I've also had a few tail me for about 10 miles (from the HW all the way through many residential streets) just waiting for me to screw up somehow.

          Houston is more forgiving p

          • by coats ( 1068 )
            Lester Maddox earned a well-deserved reputation as an extreme far-right-KKK governor of Georgia. Surprisingly enough, however, one of his first acts as governor was an anti-(town-)government action relates to speed traps. There was one of the small towns in south Georgia, on the route from Atlanta to Florida, which earned the most of its revenue from its speed traps -- speed limit 15MPH and all that sort of thing. I don't recall the name of the town at this instant; let's call it "X". As one of his firs
      • Re:He's A Jerk (Score:5, Insightful)

        by S77IM ( 1371931 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @09:43AM (#29476081)

        Are you kidding??? Were you paying attention to the previous police administration? Acevedo is a vast improvement. He is a regular cop who rose through the ranks, not a politician looking for a desk job with a lot of power. He is trying to clean up the department and instill the sort of discipline needed to not shoot black people (which has been a tragic recurring problem that the previous administration basically ignored). And Austin has hired a lot of cops recently is because (surprise, surprise) crime has been increasing. Reasons for this are unclear, but the economic downturn must play a part, and a lot of it is blamed on Katrina evacuees (racism again?). In my neighborhood we monitor local crimes and the police response time has improved greatly. Austin still has the one of the lowest police budgets and number of police per capita of any major US city, and some of the lowest crime statistics. So claiming that Austin is becoming a police state is silly.

        Is the APD perfect? Heck no. That blood-draw thing is kind of crap, and for some reason they have been killing people in high-speed chases lately (I guess since they are no longer allowed to shoot black people). But compared to most other police departments, APD is really good, and Acevedo has the unenviable job of trying to make it better. I hope he succeeds.

          -- 77IM

        • APD is fine except for the mummy cops.

        • by maharb ( 1534501 )

          That explains why he was dumb enough to try and stop people from criticizing him. Every politician is well trained in letting people bash them to death because they know calling them out is worse because they are smart enough to realize the contradiction. How can you be a police officer, where your sole purpose is to protect citizens rights, and try to take away one of the most fundamental rights we have. Despite politicians being evil, they are at least smart enough to not try and do this in the open.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I withhold opinion on all but #2.

        Slow down dumbass. I would LOVE to see local police in my area start taking idiots speeding through school zones with dozens of elementary age children lining both sides of the narrow, alley like road. It is a school zone for a reason. And you are REQUIRED to be at the speed limit before entering the zone...not 200 feet into know, after you already ran two six year old children over.

        On the flip side, I'd also like to see these officers issuing tickets to children

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) *
        Great word!

        define:phlebotomist []
        #1 - (Princeton): "Someone who practices phlebotomy".
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      So, register at the Statesman, and comment. I've been registered there for some time - just posted my first comment on the article. There will be more - I use the same name over there. Join in the discussion!!

  • by Ronald Dumsfeld ( 723277 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @08:23AM (#29475737)
    but the problem is not the one the police chief is making it out to be.

    The problem is that it is utter waste-of-space career political figures such as him don't like criticism. There are laws and processes he can follow to make a case for someone's identity - if he can show reasonable grounds that they have committed libel or deliberate defamation.

    He says, "There ought to be a law against people saying nasty things about me."

    I say, "Get lost you ignorant pigfucker. Don't go into politics if you can't stand being publicly criticised. Oh, and expect to have to pay for legal advice before you make yourself look like a rube hick crying to the press about what your critics say."

    Honestly. If they're not litigious bastards, they want the laws changed or fabricated out of fictional whole-cloth to engineer the political landscape most suited to their aims. Constitutional protections are just an inconvenience.
    • by TheVelvetFlamebait ( 986083 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @08:54AM (#29475861) Journal

      He claims that 'such posts erode public trust in the department.'

      Yeah, I'm pretty sure the ship has sailed on that one.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

        Yep... by the time such comments CAN erode public trust in any meaningful way, the boat is already well out to sea.

        If an official has confidence in their own actions and their own department, it makes more sense (and does less to trigger the Streisand Effect) if they just ignore such comments, or direct folks to make their own observations rather than believing hearsay -- then let their actions, and their department's actions, speak for themselves.

    • by dougmc ( 70836 )

      utter waste-of-space career political figures such as him don't like criticism

      Actually, he rose through the ranks -- he's not a career politician. He's a cop, now doing a job that's largely political.

      But yeah, cops never liked criticism. But who does? Cops (and politicians) often can do a bit more about it than the average citizen, however.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by A Commentor ( 459578 )
      Where did you find that quote, it definitely wasn't in the article linked to the story. Maybe you should take the time to read the story instead of basing it on the tainted summary. Right from the linked news article summary: "People who misrepresent themselves as officials in online comments could face civil, criminal penalties, Acevedo says." The problem is not the anonymous comments, but people posing as actual officers and stealing officer's identity. Here, from the first paragraph: "Austin Police Chief
    • It's not anonymous commenters criticising the police. The summary suggests that's the problem, but the subheading says

      People who misrepresent themselves as officials in online comments could face civil, criminal penalties, Acevedo says.

      So it's actually people pretending to be officials. Would you set up your Slashdot profile with your real name and links to your personal websites, and then give us the password? Misrepresenting yourself as another person is one thing, but this goes beyond.

      A public officia

  • Not surprising (Score:3, Insightful)

    by webheaded ( 997188 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @08:28AM (#29475749) Homepage
    There are people like this everywhere. As long as there are police upholding the law, there will be police trying to abuse it, and it would appear no one ever really does anything. Maybe the citizens of that city will get lucky and the mayor will come down and tell him to knock it off if for nothing else other than the fact that he's wasting money. It's been proven that if eroding our civil liberties won't get a politician's attention, money will. That being said, I wish someone on one of those damn news networks calling each other UnAnmerican(tm) about this or that would come together and agree that things like THIS are un-American...but there I go again...being an idealist. *sigh*
    • Re:Not surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @08:35AM (#29475785) Homepage

      Aye, me be thinkin thar be only one way te keep te copper from te coppers: All must keep to a Code, guidelines if ye will. Three of 'em:
            1. Serve the public trust
            2. Protect the innocent
            3. Uphold the law
            4. (Classified)

      Of course, if ye landlubbers want true freedom, take to te sea, 'cause it's a pirate life for me.

  • by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @08:33AM (#29475773)

    People are posting anonymously because they have no trust in the police.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

      Gothmolly points out: "People are posting anonymously because they have no trust in the police."

      Agreed ... and it would be interesting to see if the cops had the balls to arrest someone who posted the same statements under their real name. It's a lot easier to denounce an anonymous 'enemy'.

      "Terrorists are attacking us!! We must stop this!"
      "Which terrorists are these??"
      "Uh, well, nameless terrorists..."

  • bad summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mr. Slippery ( 47854 ) <> on Saturday September 19, 2009 @08:33AM (#29475775) Homepage

    From TFA:

    People who misrepresent themselves as officials in online comments could face civil, criminal penalties, Acevedo says.


    Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo says he and some of his officers have been harassed, lied about and had their identities falsely used


    In March, the social networking site Twitter shut down a fake account that pretended to issue official Austin police bulletins after the department and the Texas attorney general's office complained.


    State lawmakers this year passed a law that took effect Sept. 1 making it a third-degree felony to use another person's name to post messages on a social networking site without their permission and with the intent to harm, defraud, intimidate or threaten.


    A police commander has had his name falsely used as the author of comments about the department.

    The main issue here doesn't seem to be people posting "cops suck!", which is of course protected speech, but rather low-grade identity theft.

    • Re:bad summary (Score:5, Informative)

      by timmarhy ( 659436 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @08:41AM (#29475799)
      yep he is totally justified in wanting to find these people - they are breaking the law pretending to be police officers online.

      leave it to /. to not get the facts straight.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 )

      Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo says he and some of his officers have been harassed, lied about and had their identities falsely used

      These are separate things. And their claims of "harassment" could well be people sharing uncomfortable truths (likewise "lied about") which are inconvenient to the police. I've got no personal beef with the Austin police, but then, I'm (more or less) white.

      You are making assumptions without any basis. If I wanted the identities of a bunch of commenters, could I use tor (or similar) to connect to a website and make comments under my name, then claim they weren't made by me, and get the true identities of all

      • by Shark ( 78448 )

        Police are licensed gangs. They are not there to protect you. They are there to make sure that the status quo is maintained. That is all.

        You must have seen this [] then...

        I'm not entirely sure just how much bias this thing has as I am not in the US, but I must admit it makes me scared to have to deal with the police there if I ever visit.

    • If those allegations are true then what is in the way of starting a john-doe kind of law suit, or at least try to convince the judge that libel is taking place or something else illegal (imposing as police officer or so), subsequently get a warrant, and get the information the legal way. I don't think there are more laws needed for that, or are there?

      Then with that warrant the identity of a poster may be revealed, after which this poster may or may not be found guilty. Maybe the poster they suspect of impo

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 19, 2009 @08:34AM (#29475779)

    Ummm,,,,public trust has to be earned too. Acting like a f***ing crybaby won't help.

  • This article appearing on slashdot with user comments is a double-edged kick me sign - for those who post against the chief and for the chief himself.

  • surely that's down to public officials who do stupid and arbitrary things (such as trying to censor, prosecute or shut down his critics), not the people who criticise them for it.

    Maybe if this guy wants to be respected, he should start acting respectably.

  • somewhat deserved? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dale512 ( 1073668 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @08:58AM (#29475875)
    He claims that 'such posts erode public trust in the department.'

    Perhaps the variety of bullshit crap they pull has eroded the public trust in the department. Many of the police in the jurisdictions around Austin end up on the poop list of most of the civil rights organizations for a reason.

    The most recent story I recall had one of the news stations showing a ton of cops rolling through red lights over a 24 hour period (think one light had 13-15 cops run the light). None were responding to a call and only a handful actually flashed their lights. In any event, when not responding to a call they are forbidden to do what they did. Acevedo basically said he wasn't going to discipline anyone over it and the public should not worry about it since cops have a rough job.

    Crap like this is what leads to the comments he doesn't like and rightfully so. If he quits acting like a tool maybe some of this will decrease.

    If you read the article, it says something about them thinking some of it is departmental employees. It sounds more like they are on a witch hunt than any real "eroding of public confidence" claim.
  • Learn the difference or keep your mouth shut.

    • Criticism is when i say "You suck at your work."
      Defamation is when you claim my words "You suck at your work" prevents you from getting any work because people believe me more than you.
      Its based on perception.
      That is why in US, only a very few can win in courts on Defamation.
      Constitution forces us to accept criticism and roll with the punches.
      If you got a thin skin move to Europe.

      • The law of defamation varies from state to state in the USA, and is spelled out in the statutes; these are then interpreted by the courts, and the outcomes of lawsuits set precedents.

        The Constitution states that all rights not granted to federal government are reserved to the states or to the people, which includes the right to be free from defamation. Different states protect that right in different ways. The Constitution does NOT "force us to accept criticism." It protects freedom of speech in a variety o

  • by sirwired ( 27582 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @08:58AM (#29475879)

    Libelous speech is not protected speech. Never has been, never will. It matters not that the speech is online and was intended to be anonymous.

    If a post consists of "Austin cops suck!", it is obviously a protected matter of opinion.

    "Austin cops' mothers were hamsters and their fathers smelled of elderberries!": Obviously an exaggeration and/or satirical, and is protected via Flynt v. Falwell.

    "Austin cops routinely have orgies in the backroom with arrested hookers!": Libelous (if not true) and not protected in any sense of the word. Unleash those subpeonas!

    Just sayin' that this isn't necessarily bogus, and depends on the posts in question.


    • "Austin cops routinely have orgies in the backroom with arrested hookers!": Libelous (if not true) and not protected in any sense of the word. Unleash those subpeonas!

      But what if they do , but the cops make sure it can't be proven ?
      If it's my opinion that that Austin cops routinely have orgies , based on why i consider evidence ( but what other people may not consider evidence ) , i still have the right to voice that , and i don't see why it should be libel .

      So : " In my opinion , Austin cops routinely have orgies ..." , is not libel , it's just stating your opinion.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Jared555 ( 874152 )

        Is putting 'all of the content of this blog is my opinion even though I have seen some of it happen' against the law?

      • by dougmc ( 70836 )

        Beware. Taking a statement that's worded as if it were a fact (such as `Austin cops routinely have orgies in the backroom with arrested hookers!') and prefacing it with `It is my opinion that ...' does not automatically mean it's can't be libel.

        More details ... [] More ... []

      • Prefacing a statement of fact with the words "in my opinion" is not a "get out of libel free" card.

        Saying something highly illegal happens in the backroom of the Austin PD is not a statement of opinion at all (it's a statement of fact), and saying it an opinion does not make it so. If you have no reasonable basis for making the statement (and this is a pretty loose standard), and it is not true, then it is libel. If you DO have a reasonable basis, then it is "reporting", and you have 1st amendment protect

    • by GaryOlson ( 737642 ) <> on Saturday September 19, 2009 @09:25AM (#29475985) Journal
      From a comment by "gohorns" on The Statesman comment section:

      why do you immediately assume that the people who are posting as police officers AREN'T police officers? Think about it...Acevedo is saying how he is upset that people would get on and pretend to be officers so they can slam the police department. That implies he already KNOWS that they aren't officers. How does he know that? The story says that they would have to subpeona records to get the names. There's no way right now that anyone can know if they are officers or not. What if they ARE officers, and they're using the only way they can to let the public know the truth about Acevedo? No wonder he wants them shut down! He's got a leak he can't plug! It's driving him nuts!

      Methinks the police chief may have internal strife and is incompetent at managing his people.

  • by fooslacker ( 961470 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @09:04AM (#29475905)
    If you RTFA (I know, I know) he isn't saying he's going after everyone who posts negative stuff. He's saying he's going after people who pretend to be police officers or officials while posting and people who post libelous material.

    All that said, the citizens of Austin should band together and get this idiot fired. This kind of ridiculous type of activity against citizens is an abuse of power if not is the legal meaning of that phrase then in the spirit of it. We shouldn't have to put up with public officials who when their feelings are hurt lash out using their offices and positions to punish critics, even the ridiculous ones. If the police chief wants to sue them in civil court with his own money and lawyers he should go right ahead. If he wants to hunt them with public resources he should be run out of town. GO DO YOUR JOB!!! and stop worrying about who is saying mean things in the school yard, sir.
  • FTFA:

    "If you want to criticize, critique, question actions, that's allowable under the First Amendment, and we encourage that," Acevedo said. "When you start actually representing facts, when they are absolutely outright lies, that can lead to civil liability and, potentially, criminal liability."

    I'm thinking this means he has a grasp of the concept...

    • Not necessarily. The police chief is a public figure, which means he also has to prove that the defamation was also accompanied by malice. That is notoriously difficult to do in a court of law.

      The other question is who is going to pay for the legal fees. If I was a citizen I would seriously question this. In addition most lawyers won't take defamation suits on contingency because of the small settlements usually gained.

      All in all I suspect that this is mostly an effort to intimidate.

      The guy should be sacked

  • Did anyone else see the enlarge photo [] tag under Avecedo's picture and think "Ewwwww!"?
  • by Vinegar Joe ( 998110 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @09:26AM (#29475993)

    Mayor Lee Leffingwell and the entire city council are Democrats. Austin's chief of police is appointed by the city council......if they don't agree with his actions, they can dismiss him. [] []

  • by Dracos ( 107777 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @09:40AM (#29476069)

    Perhaps this is not as justified as the chief wants it to be. He and his subordinates are public servants, and should be held accountable. If the police are creating reason(s) for the public to distrust them, why should the public trust them?

    What the chief is really saying: "I am a douchebag who thinks my position automatically entitles me to trust and respect."

    • by TRRosen ( 720617 )

      What the chief is really saying: "I am a douchebag who thinks my position automatically entitles me to trust and respect."

      hmmmm who else came from Texas and had that thought???? Hmmm

  • Actually, the police chief wanting to out A/C's who don't like him is eroding public confidence.
  • by mbone ( 558574 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @10:14AM (#29476197)

    Let's see, people post on line anonymously, claiming to be police officers, and reporting various abuses.

    The police chief "thinks some could be department employees" - translation, he thinks that they are police officers, or, at least, office employees. Implication - either they are telling the truth, or for some other reason hate his guts.

    "Acevedo said he and other officers in recent months have faced allegations of sexual impropriety and suggestions that they engaged in quid pro quo behavior."

    Translation : he is being accused of having sex with hookers, and letting them go free in return.

    As I see it, accusing someone anonymously of these things is whistleblowing. It should be investigated, but by a third party. As it stands, it appears that the police chief is merely trying to find a legal means of finding and punishing whistleblowers. (Any trial would likely amount to the whistleblower saying, "I saw you and X, Y and Z doing this" and the police chief saying "No,you are lying, and here are officers X, Y and Z all willing to testify that you are lying, too." Good luck to the whistleblower on winning that one.)

    Now, in a reasonable legal system, this would result in a special prosecutor being appointed. Pardon me for doubting that this will occur in Texas. I would be glad to be proved wrong.

  • by paulsnx2 ( 453081 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @10:21AM (#29476219)

    Yeah, and who decides if people are posting lies?

    We live in Austin, and my 22 year old daughter was studying for her college finals, in her own duplex, and got into an argument with her boy friend. Irrationally, she called the cops, and the boy friend left.

    The cops come, demand to come to look for the boy friend. She refuses, and they end up tasering her twice, arresting her for obstructing an officer in his duty and resisting arrest.

    This because, when they entered her home without a warrant, they refused to let her secure her great dane and she was beside herself that they would shoot the dog (which doesn't like anyone in a uniform). Luckily, the dog did nothing.

    Then for her safety, they released her at 4:30 am in downtown Austin barefoot with no ability to call anyone (you can only make collect calls to land lines, and none of her friends, nor myself, or anyone local she knows has a land line anymore). So I get a call at 5:15 when she borrows a cell phone from a construction worker.

    Perhaps these are the kinds of "lies" the Austin police doesn't like posting. Personally, I wish they were lies. Just like the Grandmother that they tased on hyw 71, there are times when people act like idiots, angry and irrational. But in these situations, it is the POLICE that are supposed to act like trained professionals. If they are not in danger from a person who physically cannot harm them (a 70 year old grandmother, or a 22 year old girl screaming "don't shoot my dog!"), then they have no reason to taser some one. They are going to kill someone, and there isn't any reason for it.

    Oh, I'd post the Police video from my daughter's encounter with the cops. BUT it seems they "lost" it.


    • by dex22 ( 239643 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [resucitsalp]> on Saturday September 19, 2009 @10:48AM (#29476363) Homepage

      Or, my experience with APD. Sitting in a restaurant, two APD cops are seated in the booth behind me. They start talking about their new laser equipment and how it's much better than the old radar equipment. One then describes how he likes to inflate speeds by, I quote, "I can easily add 20 miles to the speed of a car." Wow. Just wow. Then, they start talking about the problem of "knowing black people are guilty of something" and using "throwdowns" they'd have taken off people earlier in the evening, and the best places to keep those stashes safe without getting in trouble. Uber wow.

      Obviously, in reporting this, I have something to fear from those officers, so I would be inclined to report anonymously. However, I'm not a chickenshit and am prepared to stand up in court and repeat what I heard, if forced by the police. It's very hard for them to coerce people who are willing to speak openly, and who have access to forums the size of /.

  • by redelm ( 54142 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @10:23AM (#29476231) Homepage
    Most likely it is his own actions and inactions in disciplining his subordinates that is eroding public confidence. Stifling criticism is the last refuge of incompetents.

    Possibly the chief is doing this "to protect his men" and improve dept "morale" and "efficiency". However, that is corrupt -- he is sworn to protect the public, not his men. And the Texas and US Constitutions, not "efficiency". The simple fact is the Constitutions are designed to limit police efficiency to reduce inhibition and promote happiness.

    Given the rather extraordinary police powers and discretion, perhaps the public should have absolute privilige with respect to criticism. Zero liability for libel and slander. Or at least and entraordinarily high standard of proof even to start a case. Someone needs to watch the watchers.

  • []

    It's as though these people think they cannot be criticized by average people, just by the media.

  • so glad (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TRRosen ( 720617 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @11:19AM (#29476495)

    Its admirable that this police chief has eliminate all drug trafficking in Austin and put an end to all violent crime thus having the time to spend reading online forums.

    PS I saw him rape a busload of underage retarded nuns while high on crack the other day.

  • freedom of speech (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DragonTHC ( 208439 ) <Dragon@gamers[ ] ['las' in gap]> on Saturday September 19, 2009 @11:20AM (#29476507) Homepage Journal

    Any opinion is protected by the first amendment.

    If the police are trying to silence opinion, that's all the more reason for allowing it.

    These tactics are applied in Iran and North Korea. And now, apparently Austin, TX.

  • A WTF Moment (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kilodelta ( 843627 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @12:03PM (#29476715) Homepage
    Here in Providence, RI our police chief Col. Dean Esserman is known by the moniker "Chief Shiny Badge". I'd say it's an accurate assessment, his rank and file even had a full no confidence vote against the chief a bit over a year ago.

    And who coined the "Chief Shiny Badge" name? Convicted former Mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci. Cianci also calls current mayor David Cicilline "Little Napoleon" on Cianci's radio show.

    The Austin chief needs to grow a thicker skin.
  • by coats ( 1068 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @01:19PM (#29477261) Homepage McIntyre vs Ohio: anonymous speech is a Constitutional right. The Austin police chief is trying to break the Law -- in particular, to break the Supreme Law of the Land.
  • by chrysrobyn ( 106763 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @02:36PM (#29477733)

    I'm an Austin resident. I don't have any direct involvement with the police except for the traffic enforcement people -- speeding, stop signs and state inspection stickers. If the Austin Police Chief wants to talk about eroding public trust, they need to collectively agree to follow all laws they plan to enforce. If they want to ticket for 40 in a 45 a block from my house, they damn well better keep it at 40 or under -- speeding by a park with kids at 50 is not acceptable. If they want to ticket for rolling stops, they damn well better actually stop at the stop signs.

    And it would be nice if Austin Police would actually ticket the state police asshole who keeps cutting across 4 lanes of traffic from the far right side of Burnet to get onto MoPac in less than the 100 feet between the traffic light at Gracy Farms and the entrance ramp (ignoring the solid white stripes).

    Instead, the city and state police and the county sheriffs in Austin make me feel like what the good Shephard Book said, "The government is a body of people usually notably ungoverned." There are many specific complaints I have, and can provide patrol car numbers and times; instead, I fear the departments are so corrupt I dare not tempt reprisal.

  • Identity fishing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Wardish ( 699865 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @02:38PM (#29477743) Journal

    As with the majority of lawsuits that need to get the real identity of the poster, this one will not result in little to no legal battles. Generally the idea is to identify the people so that OTHER measures may be taken.

    I'll leave it to your imagination on what Other Measures a Police Chief can use with relative immunity.


  • by okmijnuhb ( 575581 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @09:29PM (#29480251)
    He doesn't need any help eroding the trust of his office. He's doing fine on his own.

All laws are simulations of reality. -- John C. Lilly