AUSTIN (KXAN) – Members of the Texas Department of Public Safety are expected to start assisting with patrols in Austin Thursday, an Austin Police Department spokesperson told KXAN.
APD said the exact number of DPS troopers assisting the department was still being determined, but confirmed there would be a “significant presence.”
A partnership between the two departments was announced Monday to help with local police staffing issues.
In a memo to the Austin city manager, APD Chief Joseph Chacon said the partnership was a practical way to begin addressing Austin’s call volume and crime level.
“This collaborative work with the state is expected to result in reduced response times, a decrease in traffic fatalities, faster resolution of active case work, and reduction of violent crime,” Chacon said in the memo.
According to the memo, DPS would focus on traffic enforcement and investigations, resolve active cases by participating in investigations and follow up, as well as continue to partner with violent crime investigative units to reduce gun crime. Criminal Investigators and Crime Analysts from DPS will also supplement local enforcement efforts, per the memo.
Chacon said DPS troopers would be deployed based on need.
“DPS can monitor local radio channels; however, DPS activity will not be call driven,” Chacon said. “DPS will be assisting APD on-scene with emergency calls that require a high level of support.”
During a Monday news conference, Austin Mayor Kirk Watson said DPS would work to support APD. The initiative was sparked following a recent conversation with Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Watson said.
“This is support and supplement, not override, not overtake. It is a partnership,” Watson said during the conference. “APD is primary, but there’s support and supplement coming from DPS so that we can meet some of the needs that the staffing levels have kept us from being able to meet the way we want.”
Watson said DPS could potentially assist with issues like traffic control and providing additional coverage since there is an increase lately in traffic-related deaths as well as gun violence.
APD said it would report back to the Austin Public Safety Committee on the results of this strategy, beginning in April.
Several Austin leaders, including Watson, spoke out about delayed police responses and long wait times for 911 calls following the “street takeover” events in February around Austin.