The community is invited to meet the Austin Police Department 144th Cadet Class today (Tuesday) from 4:00 until 6:30 p.m. at Edward Rendon Sr. Park (2101 Jesse E. Segovia Street). Cadets started on June 7, 2021, and are expected to graduate on January 28, 2022.
The mass shooting on Sixth Street this past weekend was a stark reminder of the challenges facing first responders. Thanks to the swift actions of firefighters, medics, and police officers, lives were saved. This tragedy once again proves the importance of supporting public safety and well-trained first responders. The Greater Austin Crime Commission joins a concerned community thinking about all those affected by the violence.
Law enforcement leaders nationwide anticipate violent crime increases this summer. In Austin, crime rates were rising even before police budget cuts last summer. When discussions about the fiscal year 2022 city budget begin next month, the community should ask whether we are doing enough to keep neighborhoods safe and plan for public safety.
The Austin Police Department faces a staffing shortage. In addition to 150 positions cut from the budget, the department now has 143 vacancies. Specialized units have been cut twice this year and will likely face further reductions in August. Resignations and retirements continue to outpace projections.
Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk will release a proposed fiscal year 2022 budget on July 9. Budget adoption is scheduled for August 11–13. Please urge the Austin City Council to authorize and fund two or more police cadet classes next year. The department will still lose more officers at current vacancy rates than it can train with only two cadet classes.
Austin needs a new evidence-based police staffing model. This summer, the Greater Austin Crime Commission will partner with business and community groups to develop a police staffing plan that balances response times with community expectations about patrol services.
The Neighborhood Network will host forums across the city in July and August. These programs will feature community discussions on public safety priorities and the proposed fiscal year 2022 budget. If you would like to host or sponsor a forum, please contact us.
P.S. Please plan to join us for the Twentieth Annual 9/11 Memorial honoring Central Texas First Responders on Friday, September 10, 8:00 a.m., at the Austin Club. More event information and a registration link will be available soon.