TX Capital Struggles With Police Staffing Shortage

Austin, Texas police unit
Austin, Texas police unit | Image by CBS Austin

The president of the Austin Police Association said the city’s shortage of officers is leading to concerning response times, a problem Dallas residents are all too familiar with.

Police union president Michael Bullock told KVUE Austin that his department lacks the resources needed for daily patrols. The Austin Police Department currently has around 350 vacancies, but Bullock said 600 more officers are needed to properly police the state’s capital.

“We just don’t have the manpower. We don’t have the resources to be able to divert officers away from patrol,” Bullock told the news outlet. “We’re not trying to sound the alarms for people, but we think people deserve to know.”

“If we were fully staffed, we would have somewhere around, you know, 12 to 14 officers that are available in most sectors during that time. But lately, we’re dealing with having maybe seven or eight that are available,” he added.

Bullock provided a specific instance of the officer shortage’s impact on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

“Were you downtown today and needing police but no one responded?” he posted on February 15. “Our downtown dayshift had only 6 officers and 4 got pulled to go guard city council. So only 2 officers were available to answer 9-1-1 calls. Officers want to help Austinites — the City wants bodyguards.”

“Staffing woes continue,” another post by Bullock reads. “Due to our staffing being at 2006 levels, an entire sector in East Austin went two hours without a patrol officer assigned to the sector today. Our backfill shift made up of detectives and specialized units pulling double duty had to provide coverage.”

Concerns over the police shortage come as the Austin Police Association is in the midst of negotiations with the City of Austin over a new contract. While no agreement is currently in place, city officials have continued to spend taxpayer money to keep police operations going.

Bullock posted last month in response to a tweet by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who asked whether he should move his company’s state of incorporations to Texas.

“No better state, but you may want to talk to #atxcouncil there @elonmusk about the nearly 800 officers our city is missing,” Bullock wrote. “I mean, only if you want a safe city for your employees.”

The Dallas Police Department is experiencing similar staffing issues, which have caused an alarming increase in police response times over the last couple of years, as previously reported by The Dallas Express. DPD currently only has around 3,000 officers patrolling the streets despite a City analysis recommending approximately 4,000.

Additionally, budgeting only $654 million for the department this year, the Dallas City Council chose to spend considerably less taxpayer money on law enforcement than other high-crime jurisdictions, like Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City.

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