Ex-Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo returns as assistant city manager

Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo attends a hearing at City Hall after which city commissioners voted to fire him on October 14, 2021 in Miami, Florida. The firing comes just six months into the job after Acevedo penned a letter accusing three of the commissioners of interfering with reform efforts and a confidential internal investigation, according to a published report. 

Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo attends a hearing at City Hall after which city commissioners voted to fire him on October 14, 2021 in Miami, Florida. The firing comes just six months into the job after Acevedo penned a letter accusing three of the commissioners of interfering with reform efforts and a confidential internal investigation, according to a published report. 

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Local leaders in Austin are giving their mixed reactions to Acevedo returning to an administrative position as his former nearly decade-old role made him the face of a few controversies. Acevedo will be the interim assistant city manager under Interim City Manager Jesús Garza, according to Spectrum Local News.

“It is essential to have a City Management-level resource identified who is dedicated solely to APD,” Garza told Spectrum Local News. “To that end, I am adding an interim assistant city manager position who will report directly to me. I am pleased to announce that former Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo, known to many here in the city as well as the community from his tenure as police chief for nearly 10 years, will be serving in this position.”

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Austin Mayor Kirk Watson told the Tribune in an emailed statement that he supported Garza’s decision. 

“Art Acevedo brings a wealth of experience and a deep understanding of the challenges facing APD,” Watson said. “I’m hopeful he’ll be able to provide needed support for the department and help us to strengthen the relationship between City Hall and APD as well as with the community.”

While others like Austin Council Member Vanessa Fuentes were surprised by the news and took to X to express her concerns. 

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Acevedo served as Austin’s police chief from 2007 to 2016 before leaving to serve as the police chief in Houston and Miami. KVUE reports he achieved a near-celebrity status by appearing on magazine covers and marching in parades, but he also led the department during multiple controversial shootings and was criticized for how thousands of rape kits were mishandled when he oversaw APD’s now-closed crime lab.

Austin City Council Member Paige Ellis tweeted on Friday, January 19, that she was “shocked” by the decision and told Garza that this is a “bad call.”

Austin District Attorney José Garza also expressed his disappointment with Acevedo’s return, calling it “a step backward for survivors of sexual assault.”

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“Over five years ago, survivors of sexual assault were forced to sue Police Chief Art Acevedo because he failed to adequately investigate the crimes committed against them and countless other victims of sexual violence,” Garza wrote in his statement. “On his watch, a backlog of untested rape kits grew, and a culture of disrespect for survivors of sexual assault festered. As a result, too many survivors were re-victimized and traumatized by the system that was supposed to protect them.”

City officials confirmed to the Texas Tribune that Acevedo will be paid $271,000 and he’ll start by the end of January. 

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