Police staffing plan recommends 56 new officers in 2019, but an early budget proposal includes funding for only 15 cops
AUSTIN, Texas – The Greater Austin Crime Commission expressed alarm today that an early city budget proposal adds only 15 police officers, despite a five-year staffing plan that recommends 56 more positions in 2019. City Manager Spencer Cronk’s proposed fiscal year 2019 budget will be released on August 1, 2018.
“We are disappointed to see that an early budget proposal ignores the police staffing plan presented to the Austin City Council in April,” said Pete Winstead, president of the Greater Austin Crime Commission. “Despite an increase in violent crime, slower emergency response times, population growth and the recommendations of taxpayer-funded studies, the Austin City Council has failed to adopt minimum police staffing recommendations since 2012, and the percentage of the budget dedicated to public safety has decreased in each of the past three years.”
The Austin City Council unanimously approved a resolution in March directing the city manager to develop a five-year staffing plan for the police department. That plan recommended hiring 333 more officers between 2019 and 2023 to reduce crime and strengthen community policing.
The March resolution also instructed the city manager to review recommendations from previous staffing studies, including a 2016 report by the Matrix Consulting Group that revealed Austin police officers had the lowest available community policing time of any department the consultants had ever analyzed. Community policing time is the time officers have available to build relationships and trust in neighborhoods they serve. In Austin, community policing time has fallen from 33 percent in 2009 to 24 percent last year, well below the recommended standard of 35 to 50 percent.
“This is an issue that affects us all, and we need every Austin resident to hold the city accountable,” Winstead said. “This is a question of priorities, not a lack of money. Austin needs to put public safety first.”
Visit AustinPublicSafetyFirst.com for additional information on how to get involved in the budget process.
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Greater Austin Crime Commission
Founded in 1997, the Greater Austin Crime Commission supports Central Texas first responders and promotes regional homeland security and public safety planning. Pete Winstead leads a board of 60 business and community leaders. Past presidents include Roy Butler, Paul J. Bury III, Dr. William H. Cunningham, Richard S. Hill, Joe E. Holt, Adm. Bobby R. Inman, David L. Roche, Mack Wallace, Ralph Wayne, and Amb. Pamela P. Willeford. For more information, visit austincrime.org.