Austin is a very big city with a full variety of big city problems. It's time we faced the fact that we can no longer function with a police force the size of cities MUCH smaller than we are. One measure brought out recently is that we are the 11th largest city in the country with the 33rd largest police force.
In the past few years the city council has paid $150,000++ each for two studies by professional groups which both recommended sizeable increases in the number of new positions, both sworn and civilian, for the Austin Police Department. And during those years we are told that about 100 people per DAY moved to our metropolitan area - do the math. But, it's not just the number of residents that impact public safety, it's the commuters and the thousands of visitors and tourists who are here every day and night. And just look at our sprawl -- subdivisions, apartment complexes, adjacent towns, and of course, the new hotels, shopping malls, office complexes, and schools -- all over town. Austin is about 271 square miles in land area now, but expanding quickly.
For FY 2016-17, APD's staffing request was 71 sworn and 48 civilian positions (total 119). The number recommended by this year's study from Matrix Consulting Group was 78 sworn and 12 civilians this year (total 90) and an average of 17 sworn officers each year over the next four years. The number recommended in the 2011 study was 257 new sworn positions by 2017. Over the last four years the number of sworn positions approved by the council each year was far fewer than either this year's APD request or the Matrix recommendation. The city manager's proposed budget requested 12 sworn and 21 civilian positions (total 33) for FY 2016-17.
The request by Marc Ott must be rejected and instead a reasonable number of sworn and civilian positions added to the APD staff in this fiscal year's budget and approved by the City Council. This council paid a large sum of money (our taxes) for a reliable recommendation of police staffing. There is now a serious need for the full 48 civilian positions requested, making the approval of 78 sworn and 48 civilian positions the best option for Austin at this time.
Please contact Mayor Adler and every city council member ASAP to urge their budget approval of these police staffing increases to handle the policing requirements of our city. Their email addresses are in this pattern: firstname.lastname@example.org. The council will be voting on the budget over the dates of September 12-14 so take action NOW!