AUSTIN (KXAN) — As a short-term solution to ongoing staff shortages at the Austin Police Department 911 call center, the department is allowing sworn employees to work overtime to answer calls.
APD said it has had to come up with “unconventional solutions” to the issue of vacancies within the call center, and this is a temporary fix and not a preferred method of filling those vacancies, a department spokesperson told KXAN.
“To not impact services, the department allows sworn employees (sergeants) to do this overtime on their day off,” APD’s communications office explained. “Therefore, this is not negatively impacting other police services.”
In August, APD lowered the minimum number of 911 call-takers required per shift to help alleviate the stress of staff shortages that was being put on staff members that are working.
Lieutenant Ken Murphy, who heads APD’s Emergency Communications Division, told KXAN at the time the move was crucial to the well-being of staff members, and by extension, the retention of those staff members at a time when vacancy rates were around 50%.
He also said most staff members were working 20-36 hours of overtime per week, but the lowering of minimum staffing requirements would help eliminate the amount of mandatory overtime for those employees.
Sergeants can come in on their days off to work overtime answering 911 calls. According to APD’s website, sergeants’ salaries range between $99,029 to $121,315 per year or between $47-$58 per hour, not including overtime rates.