After two rewarding years, my term as the twelfth president of the Greater Austin Crime Commission recently ended. Board members elected Eddie Margain to lead the organization in its twenty-fifth year, and a future focused on public safety training resources.
Eddie and his family have made Austin their home for more than a decade. He is a co-founder of the Austin FC Major League Soccer team and founder and CEO of Pixui Investments. The Crime Commission will thrive under his capable leadership.
I’m particularly proud of our support for first responders during a challenging time for public safety. And the new machine learning police staffing model is groundbreaking and one of the most important contributions the Greater Austin Crime Commission has made to the community. The patrol staffing model was released in January, and the second part of the research findings will be ready next month.
City Manager Spencer Cronk released his proposed fiscal year 2023 budget last Friday. The public safety budget does not add uniformed positions for EMS, Fire, or Police. Balancing the demands of a rapidly growing city is not easy. If we can’t add positions due to vacancies, decisive action is needed to expand training academy capacity.
Right now, the Austin Police Department has 242 vacancies (13 percent of authorized uniformed positions), Austin/Travis County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) has 150 vacancies (23 percent), and the Austin Fire Department has 123 vacancies (9.8 percent). Emergency Communications also operates most days with 50 percent staffing on every 9-1-1 shift.
You’re going to hear us say the same thing. Austin must increase training academy capacity and lower attrition to solve the public safety staffing shortage.
Public hearings on the proposed budget will be held on July 27 and August 2. Budget adoption is scheduled to begin on August 17. City Council members are scheduling budget town hall meetings in each district.
P.S. The Neighborhood Network of public safety advocates in each Austin City Council district and across Central Texas has helped educate the community and elected officials. Please share this email with family and friends and ask them to sign up here for regular updates.