A City of Austin tweet has the Austin Police Association fuming. The city has apologized.
While officers were working overtime shifts to keep SXSW fans safe Monday night, the City of Austin tweeted this, "Welcome SXSXers! We know you're loving Austin, but if you experience a problem with police, let us know 512-974-9090.austinpolicemonitor.com"
"Extremely disgusting that city government would suggest to visitors that they're going to have a problem with police," said Austin Police Association President Wayne Vincent. "Competent leadership in the city would tell visitors, if anything, if you have a problem, the police are where you go for assistance."
Austin Police Association President Wayne Vincent says officers found the tweet offensive all the way up to the top.
"I talked to the chief and he was also obviously very upset that the City of Austin would put something like this out. I don't know anybody that can't look at that and not say what in the world was somebody thinking," Vincent said.
Chief Art Acevedo, who is on vacation, took to twitter to respond. He said, "If you want to commend a member of the @Austin_Police please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy ATX!"
Vincent responded in another way, writing a letter to Austin City Manager Marc Ott. It begins by stating...."our police officers were completely demoralized by the City of Austin."
Vincent goes on to describe the sacrifices officers make during the festival.
"We had motor officers last year working 12 straight days rotating from all day to all night. One got ran over by a car because out of fatigue he just ran out in front of a car. A lot of our officers are denied vacation so they can even get off on spring break."
The city followed up by tweeting this to the chief, " @Austin_Police does an extraordinary job under extraordinary conditions @SXSW. Apologies if OPM message gave wrong impression."
Police Monitor Margo Frasier sent FOX 7 the following statement;
A Tweet sent March 10 from the City of Austin twitter account, @austintexasgov, was intended to share information and resources from the Office of Police Monitor. While the information in the Tweet is accurate, the tone of the message was inappropriate and not released in good judgment.
The Tweet can be interpreted that there are problems with the Austin Police Department and its relationship with the public during SXSW. That is not our intent.
APD is one the best in the nation and serves the community daily -- including visitors to SXSW and other major events -- with professionalism and concern.
APD and the Office of Police Monitor work closely throughout the year to help ensure that residents and visitors are provided excellent law enforcement services. The goal is mutual respect between police officers and the public.
The Austin Police Department's tireless efforts have made Austin one of the safest cities in the country, and we're proud to be a partner.
Vincent says the damage is already done.
"They think they can get away with an apology and put the genie back in the bottle," Vincent said. "That can't happen. You try and tell these officers they weren't insulted and this wasn't purposeful, they're gonna laugh at you."