Austin police, safety commission discuss communication with families after police shootings


AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Monday, the Austin Public Safety Commission asked the Austin Police Department questions about protocols and procedures surrounding the department’s communication with families after officer-involved shootings.

Assistant Chief James Mason said the department gets members of the Victims Services Department to family members of those hurt or killed by police officers as soon as possible.

The goal of these representatives is to “respond to crime victim’s psychological and emotional needs,” according to the website. During Monday’s meeting, the department explained such services are also provided to family members of officer-involved shootings.

“There for support, information about resources,” said Victim Services Manager Kachina Clark. “A little bit of information about what may happen with the investigation.”

APD said the Victim Services Department speaks directly with one point of contact for the family members to streamline communication throughout the investigatory process. Interim Chief Robin Henderson said it’s difficult to have specific protocol regarding how and when victim services personnel respond because these situations are often fluid.

Henderson said APD is now working on tightening up protocol so there’s a clearer and more immediate roadmap when it comes to dispatching victim service coordinators to scenes they need to be at.

“And so I wouldn’t want to institute something that says victim services will always be called and respond to the scene if there is no one that needs the supportive resource,” she said. “Because now we’ve taken that resource potentially taken away from somebody or a place where it is needed. So absolutely we can identify criteria for victim services and making sure they respond to the scene.”

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