The Police Executive Research Forum says the Austin Police Department is understaffed by more than 100 officers, reports the Austin Chronicle. The city hired PERF to study the department and its resources in order to make recommendations for an “innovative, sustainable method to determine current and future police department staffing needs,” according to the 130-page report delivered to city officials last week. Austin’s police chief says he’s unsurprised by the findings, while the City Council member whose questioning prompted the study calls the report a “good discussion starter.”
According to the study, officers spend an average of 57% of their work time simply responding to calls for service. That time would have to be reduced to about 45% if those same frontline officers are going to engage more directly with the neighbors they serve, and be involved in problem-oriented policing across the city. In order to allow officers to engage more directly, the city would need to hire an additional 90 patrol officers and fill 57 current vacancies, according to the report. To keep up with population growth, the report suggests that the city also hire an additional 78 detectives and 24 sergeants.