AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Police Department confirmed to KXAN Thursday that its motors unit will be temporarily suspended starting Aug. 1.
Officials said traffic enforcement will continue to be the responsibility of all officers.
They add the motor unit’s services, such as police escorts, will be available as needed.
But due to staffing reallocation because of budget changes, APD said it needs to move officers to support patrols.
“The Austin Police Department is committed to ensuring a prompt response to emergency calls to 911. We continue to evaluate our patrol staffing needs and reallocate officers from specialized units to support Patrol operations as needed. Several units have been impacted by this staffing reallocation. As of August 1, the Motors unit will be temporarily suspended, and traffic enforcement will continue to be a responsibility of all APD officers. Services provided by the Motors unit such as escorts will be available, as needed. The safety of the Austin community remains our top priority.”-Austin Police Department spokesperson
The Reimagining Public Safety Task Force in April suggested using unarmed civilians to do traffic enforcement to prevent minor traffic stops from escalating. This would only be for minor traffic offenses, the task force said, explaining DUIs, stolen cars and speeding would still be handled by police.
There are currently no plans to implement this idea, but Austin is not the first city to have talked about this.
Berkeley, California implemented a similar plan in 2020. The city is working to form a new transportation department to handle minor traffic stops, like running a stop sign or forgetting to use a turn signal.