After 30 years in the department and nearly three years as a top brass, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley resigns.
Manley will officially retire on March 28, according to a memo from City Administrator Spencer Cronk. According to the APD, Manley, Cronk and Deputy City Administrator Rey Arellano will speak about the decision at 11 a.m. on Friday, February 12.
As noted by reporter Tony Plohetski, who first broke the news on KVUE and the Austin American-Statesman, Manley hit 30 years of APD on February 1.
Manley’s tenure as interim chief began in 2016 after Art Acevedo stepped down to take the top spot in the Houston Police Department – apparently leaving little love for his former hometown. (But this is another story.)
Outwardly, Manley’s appointment seemed meant to be – an Austinite native, a UT graduate, a career officer with leadership experience in almost every APD department – but it was his handling of the Austin bombings in the spring of 2018 that determined his position as the new boss solidified. Although Manley and APD received criticism for not calling it a hate crime, which it later found out, it didn’t stop its eventual confirmation by Austin City Council later that summer.
As with most major U.S. cities, the 2020 summer of the Austin riots put Manley and his department back on the spot, particularly how to deal with the May protests. During the demonstrations, at least four people were seriously injured by “less lethal” weapons used by police officers. In June, several Austin city council members called for Manley to step down, despite Cronk – the only person who can hire or fire the boss – refused.
Although his tenure as chief was severely hampered by the division’s handling of the 2020 protests, the division also had successes under Manley. The boss was named one of the world’s 50 greatest leaders by Fortune in 2019, and under his leadership, Austin continues to be one of the safest cities in the United States
According to Cronk’s memo, Manley’s resignation will spark a nationwide search for his successor. With the recent Austin City Council vote to redistribute $ 150 million from the police budget, there is no doubt that all eyes will be on Cronk as he makes his decision. Once he has chosen Manley’s successor, that person must be approved by the city council before he takes the top spot.
“I would like to thank Chief Manley for his guidance and service to the city of Austin,” Cronk said in the memo. “He has been a dedicated civil servant for three decades and has proudly led the men and women of our police force through incredibly challenging times.”