AUSTIN (KXAN) — Starting Sunday, 49 Austin police officers from specialized units are temporarily moving to patrol as the department works to address a staffing shortage.
The objective of the temporary suspension of some departments or downsizing was to allow the department to respond appropriately to emergency calls in a timely manner, while also helping with the shortage of officers.
“As a law enforcement agency, we are faced with making many difficult decisions as we work to maintain appropriate staffing levels within patrol and ensure a prompt response to emergency calls for service,” said an internal message from Austin Police Interim Chief Joseph Chacon on May 21. “Patrol remains the ‘backbone’ of the department and performs the most essential work of the department – answering 911 calls.”
The plan also includes the temporary suspension of APD’s motors unit, as all officers on patrol will make traffic enforcement part of their duties.
Investigative units in the department will also hold a temporary vacancy rate of 32 positions as part of the plan developed by APD Executive and Command staff.
The plan was put together to address the shortage due to retirements, resignations and the lack of new cadet classes the department has experienced over the past year.
A new APD cadet class began on June 7. Those officers won’t be ready for patrol until 2022.
“We recognize the decisions we are making have a major impact on your lives and future,” continued the message from Chacon. “This is not taken lightly and at the center of our decision-making, we are focused on a comprehensive plan that involves a collective effort and minimally impacts the services expected by our community.”
The following is the breakdown of which units the 49 officers who will shift to patrol, effective Aug. 1, will come from:
|Detectives||Downsized||-32 detectives assigned to patrol|
-Current detectives will not be moved to patrol, only newly-promoted Cpl./Det. will be part of the “Promote in Place Plan”
-Currently 19 employees who have been promoted/assigned to patrol
-More to be added as more promotions occur
|ARIC/Strategic Intel||Downsized||-Downsized by 1 officer|
|Commercial Vehicle Enforcement||Downsized||-Downsized by 3 officers|
|Continuing Education||Downsized||-Downsized by 1 officer|
|Explorers/PAL||Downsized||-Downsized by 5 officers|
-Sergeant and newly-assigned Cpl. will continue PAL, Explorer Programs
|Lake Patrol||Downsized||-Downsized by 2 officers|
|Met Tac||Downsized||-Downsized by 16 officers|
|Motors||Suspended||-All motors unit suspended, assigned to patrols|
-Traffic enforcement will be every officer’s duty
|Recruiting||Downsized||-Downsized by 2 officers|
|SOAR||Downsized||-Downsized by 2 officers|
-Duties will go to detectives/overtime initiatives
|Special Events/EMU||Downsized||-Downsized by 1 officer|
|Crisis Intervention||Downsized||-Downsized by 2 officers|