Austin coalition says city should fund more paramedics, not police

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Justice Coalition says the city should use more money in its budget toward paramedics — not police.

This week, Austin leaders are talking about next year’s budget and one groups says it’s proposing to make changes to 911 call centers.

There would be a mental health call option that police wouldn’t respond to. Instead, the group would like EMS staff and mental health professionals to help.

“A lot of people are intimidated by having an officer arrive at their home to ask if they are following up with appointments and meds,” said Mandy Blott, of AJC. “And that’s taking officers away from other duties they may have.”

The city manager’s budget proposal calls for 30 more police officers — but the AJC says it’s impossible to fill all those positions.

It says its idea puts better-trained first responders in the field faster.

Just yesterday, APD announced it will give officers more mental health training. About 120 officers already received 40 hours of training — now the APD Chief Brian Manley is suggesting an additional 40 hours.

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