Austin police requesting larger budget to hire more officers

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Wednesday, the city is reviewing the Austin Police Department’s request for more funding to hire new officers.

A recent study found the city needs to hire 66 officers and eight corporals and an average of 17 per year over the next four years. Next year’s budget is calling for 33 new officers, but 21 of those positions would be filled by officers who are currently working desk jobs. The desk jobs would be given to civilians who are proposed on the budget for

The Matrix Consulting Group report made 61 recommendations, including putting more officers on the front line and adding more civilian staff to deal with low priority and non-emergency calls. Among the key findings, patrol officers have limited opportunities to be more proactive and engage community members. The study says adding more officers to patrols would combat this issue.

The President of the Austin Police Association Ken Casaday says he and Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo want 101 new officers on the streets. They asked the City Council on Wednesday to follow the recommendations made by the study.

“It’s just a fact that we need more police officers,” Casaday says. “I think in the end will just have to live with what we got even though we disagree with that in public safety comes first.”

The proposed budget right now still shows only 12 new officers.

‘I’m tired of studies, they either need to act on the studies they got or just throw in the towel. It’s getting old and the taxpayers don’t appreciate wasting their money on studies that the City Council doesn’t even listen to,” said Casaday.

For some it means no time to build community relationships.

“I don’t wanted to sound like an excuse, but there’s just not enough time now to get out and make all those connections,” Casaday says.

Austin Police Chief of Staff Brian Manley says right now they have to go with what the city is giving them.

“As a department obviously we’re going to work with what we’re given, we put forth in our initial budget request what we felt was was necessary, and I think matrix put forth what they believe is necessary to successfully perform community policing,” Chief Manley said.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler’s staff released a statement saying

The Mayor supports community policing. We need to figure out the best way to get there. Most of the consultant’s recommendations call for changes in police strategy, systems, and culture. They also include calls for additional officers on the streets. As Chief Acevedo acknowledged today, the Manager’s proposed budget actually puts 33 new officers on the street because it replaces 21 sworn officers currently doing desk jobs with civilian employees. In addition, the Chief said the police department will add 70-80 officers this year by filling vacancies, and they will graduate two cadet classes as well. If we need to do more, then we will.

The city will vote on the budget in September.

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