An added job duty has been dumped onto the workload of our District Representatives. The Vehicle Abatement Unit was disbanded and their workload has been assigned to District Reps throughout the City. This is a recent development so the Regions are in the process of getting necessary training, figuring out how to allot the duties among their DRs, and working on efficiently handling this new task. It is true that not every neighborhood has a large problem with vehicle abatement, but many do, and in those areas, it is a significant issue which must be handled. Vehicle Abatement is time consuming, complex, and is a long process to monitor to completion. In two of the Regions, the DRs are spending about 25% of their time doing this one task!
In the APD budget request for this fiscal year, the basis of asking for additional officer positions was that they were needed for increased community policing; the city council approved approximately half of their request. District Reps are the only officer positions which are fully dedicated and responsible for community policing by developing positive relationships with citizens and building community engagement. Why pull them off their vital community policing activities within our neighborhoods and give them a different – property related -- task? This can be described as shooting yourself in the foot.
The reason for disbanding the Vehicle Abatement Unit was that the Recruiting Unit was increased by five sworn officers – the positions were taken from other areas and transferred there – two from Vehicle Abatement. New recruits to fill our 100+ vacancies are badly needed and additional staff can help bring in qualified applicants, so there is no doubt about the need. However, there must be some other way to assist Recruiting instead of putting more duties on our DRs – the only officers whose entire job is community engagement – thus taking them away from the work they do for us in our neighborhoods. While vehicle abatement is necessary, the result can be taking away a person’s property – that’s hardly a good way for DRs to build good relationships with citizens.
If this is an issue in your neighborhood, to make your voice heard, contact Chief Acevedo (Art.Acevedo@austintexas.gov) and explain that we do not want our DRs to be responsible for this additional job that prevents them from having their full time available to handle the actual community engagement and relationship building that is so needed in Austin. Urge that APD find other positions to transfer to Recruiting, OR assign those duties to some positions other than our DRs, OR increase the Recruiting staff by three instead of five and reinstate the Vehicle Abatement Unit, OR reinstate the VA Unit for a specified time (six months?) to work in conjunction with the DRs in clearing the backlog and reducing the remaining problem vehicles and then reconsider where to assign the VA duties, OR move the VA duties to the Code Compliance Department, OR some other solution – just don’t give this additional work to our DRs.
Vision Zero Report Reviewed by Public Safety Commission
At their February 1 meeting the PSC discussed the City’s draft report regarding the high number of traffic deaths in Austin and plans to eliminate the deaths. The work on this initiative had been handled by the Planning and Zoning Department until a recent change was made to move it to the Transportation Department. Commissioner Levy, who serves on the Vision Zero Task Force, explained that the Task Force did not receive the draft, which contained 100 actions to take, for their review before it was posted on the city’s website, and he offered five recommendations to be included in the report, for consideration by the Commission. After making two changes to the wording, the Commission approved them as a draft resolution which they will vote on at their next meeting. It was pointed out by city staff that the current document is to be used for the upcoming process of taking public comment, prioritizing action items, estimating costs, and developing recommendations, prior to preparing the final report for the council in May.
Everyone is urged to track this process, participate in public comment meetings, consider the costs and recommendations, and contact your city council member to give them your input on this major initiative. The next PSC meeting is on March 7 – check the city website for time and location.
Please take the time to attend the APD Forum in your Region – the information on dates, times, and locations is on the APD website. These Forums are your best chance to talk face to face with the District Reps who work in your neighborhood.
Fees for Special Events
Waiving of fees, collection of fees, setting fees, the impact of large scale events on Austin and it’s neighborhoods, the costs to taxpayers in Austin of paying necessary costs for events, what can/should be done about these issues -- these and more items were discussed at the community meeting held by the City on February 10. Participants gave their input on ideas received during a survey and developed additional ideas and suggestions which will be compiled by the staff into a report to be presented for community input at the next meeting on February 24 at 6:30 pm at the Asian American Resource Center – check the city’s website for specific updated information. Plan to participate in this meeting to give your thoughts.
Citizen Police Academy Fills Up
The current session of the CPA, which began in the second week of February, once again drew almost 100 applicants, making it necessary to hold two classes per week in order to accommodate the people in Austin who want to attend. The motto of Austin’s CPA is ‘Understanding through Education’ and the goal is to provide information to citizens about the many aspects of police work in order for them to know what officers deal with and how they do their jobs. The class is free, the meal is provided, and parking is free. Check the APD website for full information about the program content and application process. The next class will begin in September.
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PLEASE be careful when you are outdoors jogging or walking – the current wave of assaults is alarming. Take all the safety precautions set out by law enforcement and be aware of your surroundings.
March 9th, 7pm - Watch Training for South Austin
Keye's 3 Part Series on Burglars - Part 1 here: