NAACP, police union leaders vow to mend minority-officer relations
Still on opposing sides of a proposed $750,000 settlement with the family of a man fatally shot by an officer, leaders of the Austin police union and a civil rights group pledged on Tuesday to partner in mending relations between officers and minorities.
The union’s president, Sgt. Wayne Vincent, and Nelson Linder, president of the Austin chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said they want to jointly appear at schools, neighborhood associations and other community meetings to foster dialogue between officers and residents.
Vincent said that using a pool of leave time the union receives from members, some officers also would attend the meetings, hoping that both they and residents could discuss any barriers between them.
“We are completely opposite on this (Nathaniel Sanders II settlement) issue, but that shouldn’t keep us from talking,” Vincent said.
Vincent and Linder met Tuesday with the AmericanStatesman editorial board to discuss their plans. Their first scheduled joint appearance is set for Aug. 22.
Linder said that for years, most of his conversations about the Austin Police Department have been with high-ranking officers, including Police Chief Art Acevedo. He said he thinks he and others in the community could benefit from hearing from the rank and file.
He said he also wants to work with police to teach young people how to respond when they are detained by officers.
“In the final analysis, I want to save lives,” he said.