Last week, the Austin City Council unanimously approved the fiscal year 2022 budget that includes funding for two police cadet classes. A budget rider sponsored by Council Member Mackenzie Kelly was also adopted that authorizes the city manager to schedule a third modified class for currently licensed peace officers if funding is available. A commitment to future cadet classes is the first step to improve the patrol staffing crisis.
What now? With rising crime and slower response times, the Austin City Council should demonstrate a renewed commitment to public safety by adopting an evidence-based police staffing model and implementation plan this year.
Austin is a smart city and needs a data-driven, evidence-based police staffing model. Researchers at the University of New Haven and Texas State University are developing a machine learning algorithm and survey research to determine how many officers Austin needs to improve response times and meet community expectations.
The project has two components. First, the model uses calls for service, response times, and outcomes to determine optimal patrol staffing. Second, survey research will provide a better understanding of community sentiment about police services.
The staffing model is already being tested, and the survey research is underway. Preliminary findings are expected in the next few weeks, with an initial report by early October.
City Manager Spencer Cronk has announced three finalists for Austin Police Chief.
- Joseph Chacon, interim chief, Austin Police Department
- Avery Moore, assistant chief, Dallas Police Department
- Emada Tingirides, deputy chief, Los Angeles Police Department
Community forums are scheduled this Wednesday and Thursday at the Palmer Events Center (Exhibit Hall 2) from 7:00 until 8:30 p.m. The room capacity is limited to 100. The forum will be broadcast on ATXN and KAZI (88.7 FM). More background on the finalists is available here. The city manager is expected to make a decision by the end of September.
P.S. The 20th Annual 9/11 Memorial honoring Central Texas first responders will be Friday, September 10, at the Austin Club. The event begins at 8:00 a.m. The program features a conversation with Admiral Bobby R. Inman, USN (Ret), and Congressman Michael T. McCaul about lessons learned twenty years after the terrorist attacks. There is no cost for the event, but registration is required. Seating capacity is limited, and public health guidance will be observed. Register online here.