AUSTIN (KXAN) — A well-placed source close to Houston police says Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo is a name they keep hearing, even though Austin’s chief himself confirms he has not applied for the Chief’s job there, open now since last February.
“It’s inaccurate,” Chief Acevedo responded to KXAN’s Robert Maxwell in a text message reply to the question of whether the Chief had put in for the job and if the whispers were true.
In September 2015, Chief Acevedo turned down San Antonio and came away with a pay raise. There’s been chatter about Dallas for months. The topic even came up this week at city hall.
Interim City Manager Elaine Hart said off camera, “I talked with him yesterday. He told me he did not apply for that position.”
Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday said yes, he’s heard Acevedo is headed to Houston. The president of the Houston Police Officers Association, Ray Hunt, says he knows Chief Acevedo personally. Acevedo told Hunt just two months ago he was under contract and not applying for another job, but Hunt suggests offers are in the air.
“He’s a very high-profile person, he’s been in a major city for 10 years, it would surprise me if he’s not being looked at by major cities… including Houston,” Hunt told NBC affiliate KPRC.
The chatter comes at a time when Acevedo has been publicly criticized for his firing of Officer Geoffrey Freeman, who fatally shot an unarmed, naked teenager, as well as controversial arrests that have led to internal inquiries into the department’s use-of-force.
Austin police responded to KXAN’s request for comment with this statement: “Currently several major cities have potential openings for Chief of Police. Questions have been raised as to whether Chief Art Acevedo is being considered a top contender for one or more of these positions. The department does not have any information regarding these recruitment processes.”
Hunt says he would be very surprised if someone of Acevedo’s caliber is being courted only by Texas cities, but perhaps for a federal job too. The union head tells us he knows of four internal candidates applying for the Houston Chief job — one of whom is Interim Chief Martha Montalvo.
A final decision will be up to Houston’s mayor, Sylvester Turner. He told the union he’s confident he’d have a decision by December. Last spring, the city hired an outside firm to help in the search, according to reports. A spokesperson for Turner’s office tells KXAN there is no short list as of now.