Neighborhood Network

August 2, 2021

Dear Neighbor,

The community mourns the loss of Austin Senior Police Officer Lewis “Andy” Traylor from injuries in an on-duty motor vehicle accident. He served the community for nine years as a peace officer and was a veteran of the US Navy. Traylor leaves a wife and five children. Austin Cops 4 Charities is accepting online donations for his family. Charitable contributions can also be made to the 100 Club of Central Texas Survivor Fund.

Austin Police Department now has 163 vacancies in addition to the 150 positions cut from the budget last year. Yesterday, another forty-nine officers were moved from specialized units back to patrol for a total of 190 positions reallocated this year. DWI, Motors, Parks, and Street Gang units are temporarily suspended. A dozen other specialized units, including Crisis Intervention, Detectives, and Property Crimes were downsized. The police department expects to have 174 vacancies by the end of August.

What now? The 144th Cadet Class, which started in June, will not graduate until late January. The best short-term solution is to fund two or more cadet classes in 2022. Even with two cadet classes, the department will have a net loss next year at the current attrition rate.

What can you do? Please call and email the Austin City Council. Ask them to support City Manager Spencer Cronk’s proposed budget, which includes funding for at least two police cadet classes next year, completing the Loop 360 Fire/EMS station, and eighteen more EMS personnel. Fiscal year 2022 budget adoption begins August 11.

What’s next? Austin needs a data-driven, evidence-based staffing model. Researchers from the University of New Haven and Texas State University are developing a scientifically sound approach to provide the most accurate and reliable assessment of police staffing needs. More details about the machine learning model and survey research will be announced this month.

City Manager Spencer Cronk recently announced the top seven police chief candidates. The Greater Austin Crime Commission participated in the daylong community interview panel last week. Finalists are expected to be announced soon, with community forums the week of August 16. A decision is expected by the end of the month.

The seven Austin police chief candidates are:

  • Joseph Chacon, Interim Austin Police Chief
  • Anne Kirkpatrick, former police chief (Oakland, California)
  • Avery Moore, assistant police chief (Dallas, Texas)
  • Celeste Murphy, deputy police chief (Atlanta, Georgia)
  • Mirtha Ramos, police chief (DeKalb County, Georgia)
  • Gordon Ramsay, police chief (Wichita, Kansas)
  • Emada Tingirides, deputy police chief (Los Angeles, California)

Stay safe and take a minute to thank a first responder this week.

Best,

Corby

P.S. Encourage your family and friends to join the Neighborhood Network of public safety advocates.