Civic Futures Awards

Improving police oversight through community collaboration

City of Austin

Office of Police Oversight

The problem

The Office of Police Oversight provides impartial oversight over the Austin Police Department (APD). Community members face barriers to contacting the office, including historical community fear and lack of trust in law enforcement and City processes.

Solution / Approach

Director Farah Muscadin has implemented focused outreach as a tool of equity-minded community engagement to address fear and mistrust and bridge the gap between communities and institutions. Her approach centers on direct connection, empathy, education, and creating sustainable partnerships.

Core team
  • Farah Muscadin
  • Mia Demers
  • Maya Guevara
  • Gay Thomas
  • Ryan Harding
  • Claire Vaho
  • Sara Peralta
  • Jaquarry Wilson
  • Mallory Scott
Key advisors
  • Police Oversight Advisory Committee Members
  • Austin City Manager
  • Austin Police Department
  • Austin City Council
  • Austin Grassroots Advocacy Groups
  • Office of Design & Delivery
What can make it sustainable?

In order for this focused outreach initiative to be sustainable, the Office of Police Oversight must work collaboratively with stakeholders at all levels and remain creative and responsive to the community.

Advice to others

My advice to others working to build trust between institutions and community is to never underestimate the power of empathy and relationship-building. Change happens at the rate of relationships.