AUSTIN (KXAN) — In an effort to get more personnel to volunteer for overnight shifts, Austin Police is debuting a new pilot program that would double officers’ overtime pay.
The program, described in a memo from Chief Joseph Chacon obtained by KXAN, would double the regular rate of compensation for certain patrol overtime shifts.
The rate would be for officers who volunteer to work either a full or partial shift that is not the employee’s assigned shift, APD said. An “eligible” shift would be a patrol shift between 5 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. or a 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. patrol shift.
According to an email from Chacon to the department, the overnight patrol shifts are “consistently working extremely short staffed.”
Austin Police has been plagued by staffing issues throughout the last year due to retirements, resignations and the lack of new cadet classes. In July 2021, Chacon said the department was losing 15 to 20 officers a month, with more than 230 vacancies projected by May 2022.
The department is also expected to have more staffing strain following the recent indictment of 19 officers who would be placed on leave.
Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday said the department would need to increase overtime pay in order to meet staffing demands.
The news comes as the city’s crime rate continues to grow, with 2021 being a record year for homicides in Austin.
A report from the Greater Austin Crime Commission shows that the department would need to have 108 more patrol officers to meet the target emergency response time of 6 minutes and 30 seconds.
The overtime pay program will begin on Feb. 27 and end on May 28 and will be reviewed weekly.