Neighborhood Network

October 15, 2020

Dear Neighbor,

NUA — No Units Available

That’s the patrol status when you call 9-1-1 and police can’t respond.

And it’s happening in Austin.

Forty-seven police cadets are expected to graduate from the training academy next Friday. After that, no more cadet classes are scheduled.

Why?

Despite rising crime and slower response times, the Austin City Council voted unanimously in August to cut 150 officer positions and cancel upcoming cadet classes.

How can you keep the community safe and improve policing with a staffing shortage? More officers are resigning and retiring from the Austin Police Department than anticipated. The attrition rate doubled in the last fiscal year.

The cadet class that should’ve started this summer was one of the most diversein the police department’s history. Canceling academy classes is a missed opportunity to change police culture and provide enhanced alternative response training for mental health calls.

Social justice groups have told the city council and community that police training needs to be stopped and overhauled. Evaluation reports by Dr. Miguel Ferguson and Dr. Sara Villanueva tell a different story. Both recommend improvements, but also acknowledge the strengths of the police training academy and staff.

The Greater Austin Crime Commission is confident the work of city staff and the police department will enable the community and council to agree on improvements and restart cadet classes.

What can you do?

  1. Join the Better Safe coalition of businesses and community groups.The coalition will urge the Austin City Council to make budget adjustments early next year and restart cadet classes, restore police positions, carefully consider additional cuts, and promote alternative responses.
  2. Be an informed voter. Five Austin City Council seats are on the ballot November 3. Austin area chambers of commerce sponsored two candidate forums, which are available online. Early voting started this week and continues through October 30. Check Travis County polling location wait times here.

Stay safe.

Best,

Corby

P.S. If you missed it, watch the Austin PBS ATX Together conversation earlier this week about police defunding with Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo and Austin Mayor Steve Adler. KLRU-TV will rebroadcast the program on October 22, at 7:30 p.m.