The latest Chief’s Monthly Report shows year-to-date increases in murder (79 percent), aggravated assault (15 percent), and burglary (4 percent). Robbery (-5 percent) and simple assault (-2 percent) were among the crime categories that decreased.
Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk will release a proposed fiscal year 2022 budget on July 9. Budget adoption is scheduled for August 11–13. Recent legislation signed by the governor prohibits cities with populations of more than 250,000 from reducing police budgets lower than the previous two fiscal years. That means Austin must restore its police budget to at least FY 20 funding. The current FY 21 police budget is $292 million, and the FY 20 budget was $434 million.
The Austin Police Department has 148 vacancies, in addition to the 150 officer positions cut last year. At least eight more vacancies are expected next month. The 144th cadet class started on June 7 and will graduate on January 28, 2022.
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 FY 22 budget. If you would like to host or sponsor a forum, please contact us.
Last week, the White House announced a strategy to combat gun violence and other violent crime. Austin is one of fifteen cities included in the Biden Administration’s Community Violence Intervention (CVI) Collaborative. President Biden also announced that federal recovery funds may be spent on hiring officers, officer overtime, and law enforcement equipment and technology. Austin will receive $188 million, most of which has already been earmarked by the city council for homelessness.
P.S. The tragedy in Surfside, Florida, reminds us of the bravery and sacrifices of first responders. On CBS News’s Face the Nation last Sunday, John Dickerson reflected on this “community of protection” that “rushed to endanger their lives in the hope of saving the lives of others.”