AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon said the Texas Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) increased patrols in Austin “has been critical given the staffing shortages APD is experiencing.”
DPS ceased its partnership with APD over the weekend so troopers can focus their attention on border cities in the wake of the expiration of Title 42, according to law enforcement sources.
The initiative, called the Austin Violent Crimes Task Force (AVCTF), began on March 30 as a way to assist APD, as the department faces a staffing shortage. APD currently has about 300 vacancies.
“This impacts operations, including slower response time to emergency calls,” Chacon said about the temporary split in an email. “APD officers are working hard to provide the highest level of service possible, and we ask for the community’s understanding and patience as APD works to build back its ranks.”
Since the program began, there have been “significant decreases in violent crime, response times, and calls for service,” according to APD. The department used a data-driven approach to identify crime “hot spots” as well as high-travel roads most common for crashes – and deployed troopers to those locations.
It is unfortunate but understandable that DPS has been called to assist with border operations. They have been instrumental in lowering the number of emergency calls for service, removing stolen weapons and vehicles form the streets, seizing large quantities of illegal narcotics and increasing traffic safety in Austin during the past several weeks. They will be missed and we look forward to future opportunities to partner with them again.APD Chief Joseph Chacon
Council Member Mackenzie Kelly, who represents District 6 in northwest Austin, released a statement Saturday morning saying the partnership estimated it is ending for only a two-week period.
The program has also drawn criticism from heavily patrolled communities, with residents feeling like they were being unfairly targeted with traffic stops. City Council members shared some of these concerns at a briefing earlier this month.