AUSTIN (KXAN) — Even though the Austin Police Department (APD) has enough officers to respond to emergencies, low staffing levels have led to the decline of certain proactive patrols and community policing efforts.
That’s one of the reasons the department, according to Lt. Jay Swann, is trying out a new toolbox of recruiting tactics.
“As you can imagine, recruiting in law enforcement today is very competitive,” he said.
One of the department’s biggest pushes at the moment is recruiting from out of state. Swann said APD so far has had the most success in New York City.
“Brought in 20 candidates we might not have seen if we were just focusing locally or even regionally,” he said, adding that some applicants in New York City were drawn to the idea that the cost of living in Austin is lower than New York City, while still being a metropolitan area. “Even though the cost of housing is on the rise in Austin, if someone has a dream of owning a home and raising a family, this is a better place to do that.”
What worked in Fort Worth
Austin isn’t alone in the struggle.
The State Auditor’s report indicated law enforcement agencies across Texas saw lots of turnover in 2022.
The Fort Worth Police Department was able to break through the noise of the recruitment competition with a Facebook video that went viral.
“So we just wanted to do something fun to get the word out that Fort Worth PD is needing some good people,” said Sgt. Amie Heise.
A lot of those views, she said, turned into applications.
“We have a lot of positive feedback about it, we have people reaching out to us in Texas, outside Texas, outside of the country with a lot of people wanting to join our department, we’re very happy,” Heise said.