Fifteenth District Police Commander Ernest Cato III was at More Park, 5085 W. Adams, for the annual National Night Out on Aug. 7. The event was held in the wake of one of the bloodiest weekends the city has experienced, with more than 60 people shot — the vast majority of them on the West and South Sides. 

During the Aug. 7 event, Cato said that, rather than focusing on the negative headlines, National Night Out was about emphasizing the positive aspects, while also working on solutions for addressing the negative aspects, of life in Austin. 

Below is an excerpt of an interview with Cato — in his own words.


We’re sending a positive message that says that, ‘Yes, there’s violence, let’s not ignore it, but at the same time let’s not surrender to it.’ Should we surrender to the negative energy out here? No. Should we throw our hands up and quit. No. We should welcome all of the good people in this community who needs us and tell them that they shouldn’t feel hostage to just a small group of people.

We also need to let the young men and women out here who aren’t doing the right thing, we need to let them know that there’s still an opportunity for them to do the right things. Although negative things happen in the community, what happened today was people were here engaging, dancing, smiling. 

The ultimate goal today is to bring the community and police together, engage and see what we can do to make things better. We talked about night walks and positive loitering. Another young man said he hires ex-offenders. 

Policing is different now. It’s about bringing everyone together and developing relationships not only with regular people in the community but also with these young men on these corners. We’re going to let them know we know who they are, what they’re doing and we’re not going to tolerate it — but at the same time we’re going to try to help them. That’s what we’re doing here in Austin. 

 Michael Romain