AUSTIN (KXAN) — Every city department is gearing up for a busy spring festival season with many events scheduled over the next few weeks and months.
“As we welcome all these visitors and we plan for these events that add to the vibrancy of the city and bolster our economy, we recognize it puts an added strain on city resources,” Austin Mayor Kirk Watson said.
Watson said these events offer an economic boost for the city, but planning and preparations are fundamental to make sure things run smoothly.
“Anytime we have a large event, where there is a lot of people, we are going to have a lot of officers there to keep it safe,” APD Assistant Chief Jeff Greenwalt said.
APD said during these events they will be properly staffed and ready to respond when needed.
“This is not uncharted territory, with or without the staffing problem,” Greenwalt said. “The same number of positions that we need to keep SXSW safe is the same this year as last year and we have those positions filled.”
However, APD said they will offer overtime opportunities to those who are working and some detectives will take on new duties.
“We have a minimum staffing level that we don’t take away from on patrol, then we have detectives backfilling when those numbers fall below the minimum,” Greenwalt said. “That has to take away from their investigative duties in order to backfill to make sure we have enough people on the street.”
When detectives are moved into patrol roles they are temporarily taken off current investigations.
Staffing shortages in the 911 call center have led to longer wait times for 911 callers, this has been going on for at least a year, but APD says they will have a full staff working during SXSW and big events.
According to APD, the call center will have a full staff of 16 operators taking calls. Operators will be offered overtime to make sure they are at full staff.