Looking back at Art Acevedo’s Austin tenure, career history

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — After receiving a $271,000 offer to serve as an interim assistant city manager overseeing the Austin Police Department, former Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo announced Tuesday he wouldn’t accept the position.

“Unfortunately, politics and power struggles have hindered our efforts to create real positive improvements for the people of the city,” he wrote in the social media post. “I firmly believe that if we are to build a future together, we cannot afford to blame others and point fingers.”

The news came one week after Aurora, Colorado’s police department announced Acevedo — who’d been serving as the department’s chief for roughly one year — would be resigning and returning to Texas to be closer to family.

BREAKING: Art Acevedo not taking Austin assistant city manager job

On Friday, multiple sources confirmed to KXAN Acevedo had been offered the interim assistant city manager position by Interim City Manager Jesús Garza. City officials confirmed Monday that offer included an annual salary of $271,000.

Here’s a look back at Acevedo’s career, from his tenure as head of APD to his career stops elsewhere.

2007: Acevedo takes over as chief of APD

After serving as a commander with the California Highway Patrol, Acevedo took his seat at the helm of APD in 2007. In a 2015 interview with KXAN, Acevedo discussed his relational policing tactics, as well as commended his department’s critical incident responses.

In that same interview, former Austin City Council members Sheryl Cole and Mike Martinez spoke highly of his leadership, particularly his community involvement and hands-on approach. Nelson Linder, head of the Austin NAACP, told KXAN in 2015 Acevedo had made progress but continued to be a “work in progress.”

“The biggest issue going forward is going to be cameras and trying to enforce the policies we have in place,” Linder said at the time. “I give him a passing grade but work remains to be done. Some of these shootings have got to stop, we cannot tolerate anymore unnecessary shootings.”

February 2015: Acevedo speaks out against then-Senate bill permitting firearms on college campuses

In February 2015, Acevedo spoke at a state Senate hearing in opposition to a then-bill that proposed allowing people to carry guns on college campuses.

In his testimony, he said it could create a dangerous environment for college students, specifically pointing to those who are victims of sexual assault cases.

“Now we’re going to create an environment where people are lawfully allowed to carry firearms on campus,” Acevedo said at the time. “We’re potentially turning sexual assault victims – who we have a lot of resources to help these young people…through our victims services and so forth – into potentially murder victims.”

February 2016: Acevedo works with protestors demanding justice over fatal police shooting

In February 2016, protestors with the Austin Justice Coalition convened outside Austin City Hall calling for justice for David Joseph, a 17-year-old teenager shot and killed by APD Officer Geoffrey Freeman. At the time, police said Joseph was naked and acting aggressively toward police before running at Freeman; Joseph wasn’t armed at the time of the fatal shooting.

PAST COVERAGE: Chief makes it official: Acevedo leaving town for Houston

Chas Moore, co-founder of the AJC, said at the time the organization had a working relationship with Acevedo and said he’s “willing to work with us and I commend him for that.”

At a police press conference on Feb. 11, 2016, Acevedo said his department would deploy its resources to learn what happened in the build-up to the fatal shooting.

“We’re going to leave no stone unturned to leave a complete picture in accounting of everything that led up to that tragedy,” Acevedo said at the time.

Freeman ultimately received a settlement from the City of Austin in December 2016, after he was fired from the department following the shooting.

April 2016: Acevedo discusses 100+ open APD positions

In April 2016, Acevedo joined KXAN to discuss approximately 140 open officer positions the department was looking to fulfill. Detectives had been deployed to help alleviate patrol shortages.

April 2016: Acevedo reprimanded for comments on ongoing police investigation

Acevedo was docked five days’ pay in late April 2016 after released documents detailed Acevedo was reprimanded for comments made during an ongoing police investigation.

At the time, then-City Manager Marc Ott said he was simply doing his job. In addition to the five days without pay, Acevedo faced work travel restrictions as well as the possibility of termination.

Previous KXAN reporting revealed Ott claimed there were similar personnel issues with Acevedo in 2011.

“My concerns have existed for some time, and again in terms of the information that’s in the public domain, the first indication of that and it’s from a public standpoint, was in 2011,” Ott told KXAN at the time.

Further details about the 2011 incident weren’t given.

June 2016: Austin Police Association survey returns low reviews for Acevedo

More than half of Austin Police Association members surveyed in a June 2016 poll gave department morale “poor” ratings. In the survey, 47% of the respondents said “better leadership” would most improve department morale, followed by 43% of respondents in favor of additional personnel.

‘Step backwards for survivors of sexual assault’: DA slams return of former APD chief

Of those surveyed, the majority of responding members said Acevedo was “often arbitrary or politically-driven in high-profile disciplinary cases.”

The survey’s findings came after Acevedo was punished by the city manager for meeting with Austin police cadets regarding the Joseph case.

At the time, Acevedo said he was proud of APD officers, adding he was “confident the best days of the APD are yet to come.”

June 2016: Austin Police’s DNA lab shut down

Following concerns raised by the Texas Forensic Science Commission, APD suspended operations of its DNA lab. Acevedo cited a lack of properly trained staff and an outdated forensics lab as key issues leading to the ultimate shutdown.

“The actual formulas that are being used to validate the samples, we have been using a formula that is not consistent with the formula that has been adopted by the state of Texas,” Acevedo said in June 2016.

Following the suspended services, officials told KXAN at the time the team would focus on operational improvements while going through a thorough retraining process and a full audit, while also hiring a new scientist to run the lab.

November 2016: Acevedo name mentioned among those vying for Houston Police chief

A source told KXAN in November 2016 Acevedo’s name was mentioned among the running of candidates vying for chief of the Houston Police Department. Acevedo told KXAN at the time “it’s inaccurate” that he was competing for the position.

The speculation came after Acevedo turned down a chief police officer from San Antonio in September 2015.

“[Acevedo’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,” Houston Police Officers Association President Ray Hunt told NBC affiliate KPRC in November 2016.

November 2016: Acevedo accepts Houston Police Chief position

News broke in November 2016 Acevedo had accepted the position of police chief at the Houston Police Department, following nearly a decade leading APD.

“It’s a huge loss for the city of Austin. We’re losing a great leader. We’re losing someone that is much loved in the community. He has made us one of the safest communities in the country and also one of the most moral I think. He’s brought communities together so the city’s losing a great leader. I am personally losing a good, good friend,” then-Mayor Steve Adler said following news breaking of the chief’s departure.

RELATED: Former APD Chief Art Acevedo returning to Texas after leading Colorado department

In a press conference with then-Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Acevedo said he looked forward to serving in Houston but called his time with APD the honor of a lifetime.

“I love cops. I love policing. I’m 52 years old and I still love coming to work each and every day,” Acevedo said in November 2016. “Just give me the chance to show you what the mayor saw in me and I promise you that when we’re done they’re going to be thankful that we have Chief Art Acevedo at the helm.”

Five APD assistant chiefs and a chief of operations were considered likely candidates who could be named to serve in the interim position. Those included Chris McIlvain, Joe Chacon, Frank Dixon, Troy Gay, Jason Dusterhoft and Brian Manley.

December 2016: Manley named interim police chief

Acevedo pinned Manley as interim chief of APD in December 2016. Manley had previously served as chief of staff with APD and had served with the department for 26 years at that time.

At the time, Manley said his top priorities included improving officer morale, reopening the shuttered DNA lab and improving race relations in Austin.

March 2018: Acevedo echoes support for Manley to take over as official APD chief

Acevedo shared his support for Manley to become the next APD police chief. His recommendation came hours before an Austin City Council member signified interest to approve Manley’s appointment if the city manager sought approval.

May 2018: Austin names Manley sole finalist for APD chief

The City of Austin announced two public forums for its police chief search process after Manley was named the sole candidate for the permanent position.

March 2021: Acevedo leaves Houston for Miami

The Miami Police Department confirmed in March 2021 Acevedo was leaving Houston to take over as chief of Miami Police, the Associated Press reported at the time. The news came after Acevedo had built a national profile for himself, noted for marching with protestors in Houston following George Floyd’s death and for criticizing former President Donald Trump.

“We went out and got what I feel is America’s best chief,” Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said at the time.

October 2021: Miami fires Acevedo

Months after joining the Miami Police Department, Miami city commissioners voted in October 2021 to fire Acevedo, per reporting from the Associated Press.

Acevedo had been criticized for comments regarding fellow Cuban-Americans, trust issues with officers and departmental clashes.

January 2022: Acevedo sues City of Miami, city commissioners

Acevedo sued the City of Miami and Miami city commissioners over alleged retaliation against him for his desire to speak out against supposed corruption.

Acevedo’s suit claimed he was “purposefully humiliated” and fired for trying to report alleged abuses of power being committed by elected officials.

December 2022: Acevedo sworn in as Aurora Police Department’s interim chief

Aurora PD documents note Acevedo was sworn in to oversee the Colorado police department in an interim capacity in December 2022.

January 2024: Acevedo departs Aurora PD

Acevedo announced he was returning to Texas just over a year after joining as interim chief of the Aurora Police Department in Colorado. His last day with the department was Jan. 22.

Just days later, KXAN confirmed Acevedo had been asked to join the City of Austin as an interim assistant city manager, tasked with solely overseeing the Austin Police Department and assisting Interim Police Chief Robin Henderson.

RELATED: Former police chief Art Acevedo set to make $271K for new City of Austin job

His hire met backlash from several Austin City Council members and the Travis County District Attorney’s Office, with specific concerns over mishandlings of investigations into sexual assaults that occurred between 2006 and 2019. Those mishandlings included a backlog of untested rape kits.

Several sexual assault survivors served as plaintiffs in a 2021 lawsuit filed against the city, which alleged improper handlings under APD.

Prior to his rejection of the interim assistant city manager offer, Acevedo was poised to make $271,000 a year as part of the role.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to KXAN Austin.