AUSTIN (KXAN) — A day after news broke from the Travis County district attorney, KXAN learned the 19 indicted Austin Police officers placed on leave will further strain the department’s staffing struggles.
“Talking about how short the police department is now. Well, with the snap of a finger yesterday, it was made 19 bodies shorter,” said Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday.
“It’s getting more unsafe every day with less APD and with more crime going on,” said Jesse Fortney, owner of Gnar Bar on E. Sixth Street, who’s preparing for the large crowds coming to town for the Austin Marathon and SXSW.
On Thursday, District Attorney José Garza announced a special grand jury indicted a group of officers related to events that happened during the 2020 racial injustice protests, saying innocent protestors suffered serious injuries at the hands of the Austin Police Department.
“We’re going to have to do imaginative things in order to recruit,” said Casaday. “The chief is about to approve double time instead of time-and-a-half for officers to work OT to get them to come out and work.”
This comes as the city and its crime rate continues to grow.
2021 was a record year for murders in Austin. And according to a report released in January, various thefts rose significantly.
City council members passed a public safety vacancy staffing plan Thursday. This happened before news of the indictments was announced.
A report funded by the Greater Austin Crime Commission shows APD needs 108 more patrol officers to be able to meet the target emergency response time of 6 minutes and 30 seconds.