Parent safety group advocates for APD Chief Manley to become permanent police chief

Allyson Waller

In the aftermath of the Austin bombings, SafeHorns, an organization which advocates for student safety, is pushing for Austin Police Department Interim Chief Brian Manley to be appointed as the permanent chief of APD.

“I feel like he’s proven himself, and it would be a waste of taxpayer money going outside and searching for another candidate,” said Joell McNew, vice president of SafeHorns. “I don’t think there’s a better candidate.”

On March 22, McNew spoke before Austin City Council and City Manager Spencer Cronk, explaining why she believes Manley has demonstrated he is a capable candidate for permanent police chief. Others, too, such as Austin councilwoman Delia Garza and Houston Police Department Chief and former APD Chief Art Acevedo, called for Manley’s permanent appointment.

As city manager, Cronk has the final say in whether Manley is appointed as permanent chief, something he said the community can expect to hear soon.

“I’m well aware of the Council and community conversations about making a decision regarding our next Chief of Police,” Cronk said in statement. “The trust and relationships (the police) have with the community and our partner agencies is unquestionable. Our focus right now is on the important investigatory work that is continuing. I would expect that you will hear from me more on the status of my selection process in the coming weeks.”

McNew said she’s pushing for Manley’s appointment because of his work with SafeHorns and the UT community regarding student safety. 

“I was fortunate to meet Chief Acevedo, (and) at the time, Chief Manley was assistant chief,” McNew said. “Every time I would see Chief Acevedo, I would see Chief Manley also, and he was always very engaged and concerned every time he spoke about safety issues, whether it be on campus or around campus.” 

Despite Manley’s record, not everyone is on board with an immediate decision being made. 

Chris Harris, data analyst and campaigns coordinator for Grassroots Leadership, a civil and human rights organization, said a formal process should take place before Cronk makes a final decision.

“It may be harmful to the city to make rash decisions immediately after such a traumatic event for our city,” Harris said.  

Harris said citizens should have the chance to look at other possible candidates for police chief and hear their agenda before a decision is made. 

“Aside from city manager, there may not be (a) more important position that’s hired within the city,” Harris said. “For us not to go through a similar process … and have the candidates for that position tell us what they’re going to do and then for us to be able to hold them to that — that means we all, as a community, lose out on a valuable opportunity to help shape what the police force will be.” 

McNew said she understands the need for a recruiting process, but said Manley’s dedication to UT and his years of service with APD show he is well qualified to be APD’s new permanent chief. 

“Yes, I’m sure there are other candidates that would be good and qualified across the country,” McNew said. “But for Chief Manley, he has proven himself over the last 28 years.”