The Austin Police Department is “struggling somewhat” to keep up with calls for service and cases that need investigation, and needs to add about 250 officers by 2017 to keep pace with a 12 percent city population growth, the Police Executive Research Forum told the city in a $98,000 study, according to the Austin American-Statesman. The study said city patrol officers spend 57 percent of their time responding to one call after another — higher than other departments the group has studied, including those in San Francisco and Memphis. “The large amount of time consumed on calls for service, plus the time spent on self-initiated activities such as traffic stops, leaves little time left to engage the community, solve local crime and disorder problems, or patrol hot spots,” the study said.
Compared with six other cities researched, including Fort Worth, Seattle and San Francisco, Austin has the third-highest number of officers but also the third-lowest ratio of officers per 1,000 residents. That ratio is a kind of benchmark among departments to determine staffing; having ?2 officers per 1,000 is considered ideal and is also city policy. The city currently has 2.08 officers per 1,000 residents.