A new study commissioned by the city shows the Austin Police Department is very busy and “struggling somewhat” to keep up with calls for service.
The study was done by the Police Executive Research Forum, a non-profit law enforcement think tank. And it says the city’s current model of two officers per 1,000 people isn’t working. The study says APD needs more than 250 new officers and staff by 2017.
Wayne Vincent is the president Austin Police Association. He says the effect of short staffing is already having an effect on the city.
“There’s very little uncommitted time for police officers," Vincent says. "They’re going from call to call. There’s no chance to get to know people in the neighborhood, visit with business owners, individuals in the community. So the target is to have that uncommitted time so the officer can be proactive instead of reactive.”
The study included a survey of Austinites. More than 90 percent say they feel safe in their neighborhoods but many want police to spend more time solving crimes and disrupting gangs.
“I think that’s actually a very valid expectation on the part of the community and we recognize that we can use more detectives doing the follow-up work," APD Assistant Chief Sean Mannix says.
Mannix says the study will be a good tool for the department as they go into budget and staffing discussions with the city in the future. City Council will start discussing budget options in August.