Eliminate new and vacant positions and redirect funds and positions to alternative public health and public safety initiatives to provide preventative measures that reduce the community needs issues that become public safety issues.
This reform is directed by City Council Resolution 20200611-096.
City Manager to work with Office of Police Oversight and Equity Office on best service delivery model to move social services and public health functions performed by the Austin Police Department (APD) to other City departments or outside government and non-governmental entities.
Deliverables and Outcome
Rewrite of APD General Orders, audit of APD disciplinary actions and development of a process that engages the Office of Police Oversight, the Equity Office, the City-Community Reimaging Task Force and other community members in developing best practices for public safety training, policies and practices and implementation of the Equity Assessment Tool to measure the equity in public safety outcomes for communities of color and other marginalized groups.
These elements of the reform resolution are considered complete, as of July 2021. Some changes were implemented starting with the 2020 budget and some were for the 2021 budget.
- No new sworn positions added to APD
- Eliminate sworn vacancies
- No new funding for militarized equipment
- Include money for a process to rewrite General Orders
- Increase staffing for mental health first responders
- Include funding to fully implement First Responder Mental Health Calls for Service
- Include funding for distribution of Naloxone for emergency treatment of drug overdoses
- Include funding for offices of Police Oversight and Equity
- Include funding for an audit of costs related to suspected and/or confirmed officer misconduct
- Conduct investigation into allegation of racist remarks
- Transfer of APD public information positions to a newly created public safety communications program in Communications and Public Information Office
- Review all grants received by APD to ensure alignment with City Council's vision
- Explore options for reallocating APD functions to other departments
- Explore options for reallocating positions and roles to new city units
- Explore options for reallocation APD functions to outside partner entities
- Set aside reserve funds to implement recommendations from APD-related audits
- Explore and propose ways to structure the APD 2021 budget
These elements of the reform resolutions are considered in progress, as of July 2021.
- Include funding for expansion of programs to reduce or eliminate arrests for low-level offenses
City Manager Proposes Balanced Budget that Renews Commitment to Public Safety
On July 9, 2021, Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk reinforced the City’s commitment to continuing progress on Reimagining Public Safety (RPS) Initiatives during the presentation of his proposed Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) proposed budget to Mayor and City Council.
“We’ve already made tremendous strides in our efforts to reimagine public safety,” said Cronk. “Our core mission is to ensure that everyone – everyone – no matter who they are or where they live in our community – is valued, is respected, and can count on us to show up for them in a crisis, without fear that they will be treated differently,” he said. Read more.
RPS Mid-Year Budget Amendments Approved
On April 22 the Austin City Council approved a series of mid-year budget amendments related to Reimagining Public Safety Initiatives.
The changes, focused on realigning City services and resources to allow the Austin Police Department to focus on its core mission of law enforcement, includes the creation of a new Emergency Communications Department to handle emergency calls. Read more in English here and in Spanish here.
March 2021 Quarterly Report Update
APD has expended $152.2 million of its $292.9 million budget (52.0%). Programs within the APD Decouple Fund have expended $28.6 million of their $64.6 million budget (44.2%). Programs within the APD Reimagine Safety Fund have expended $21.6 million of their $45.1 million budget (47.8%).
Forensic Science Department Approved
City Council approved an ordinance to create a Forensic Science Department under the control and direction of the City Manager on February 4, 2021. The restructuring transfers APD Forensic Science Bureau funding and positions to the new, independent Forensic Science Department. The change provides an opportunity for the City to achieve a higher level of forensic objectivity and operational independence, in alignment with recommendations included in the Quattrone Report’s comprehensive review of the APD DNA Lab. Those findings were released in October 2020.
APD Officer Naloxone Training
APD purchased naloxone for officers to carry with them to assist in treating victims of opioid overdose. The department is working with the Office of the Medical Director on training officers in its use.
APD reinvested $50,000 to hire three counselors and one counselor supervisor to work with victims of trauma.
APD reinvested $15,000 in funds to aid crime victims. The funds will be used for emergency needs, such as clothing.
Job Training Support and Services
APD reallocated $1.37M to the Office of Economic Development for a project with the Austin Metro Area Community Workforce Plan and Workforce Solutions to help approximately 260 jobless residents connect to no-cost, rapid, and safe job training. Enrollees will receive weekly stipends, career counseling, job placement, childcare, transportation, and internet access.
Homeless Outreach Street Team Support
An investment of $2.5M was budgeted in the FY 2020-21 in Police, Emergency Medical Services, and Downtown Austin Community Court – including an Integral Care contract – for the Homeless Outreach Street Team (HOST). This is a cross-departmental initiative that offers a proactive approach to addressing a person’s needs by referring them to appropriate resources before they reach a state of crisis. This reduces arrests, emergency room visits, and admissions to emergency psychiatric facilities. HOST is working to identify appropriate cases for referral. Integral Care has hired three team members and is actively recruiting to fill other positions. HOST is helping to train new Integral Care team members and will establish a set schedule to partner with Integral Care team.
Resources for Immigrant and Underserved Communities
In March, funds from APD allowed for contract increases related to immigration services provided by the City of Austin. The services include funding for immigration legal services and deportation defense, and counseling. Funds will also be provided for affordable groceries, health and wellness, and financial literacy resources for underserved communities. Substance misuse services will also be provided to low-income individuals through the reinvestment of these funds.
APD Grant Review
In a memo to Mayor and Council on March 3, 2021, Assistant City Manager for Public Safety Rey Arellano summarized the results of a review of all state and federal grants managed by APD. The review found the projects and programming supported by the funds are in alignment with City Council’s vision for APD policies and practices. The mental health intervention and grant alignment review are outcomes of Council Resolution 20200611-096, along with the decoupling and reinvestment activities summarized in this report.
On March 10, the Public Safety Committee of the Austin City Council received a briefing from the RPS leadership team which provided an update on reimagining activities. The briefing focused on progress in the areas of decoupling (shifting) services and operations from APD to other City Departments, and reinvestments in alignment with the overall goals of resolution 96 to redirect APD funds and positions to alternative public health and public safety initiatives to provide preventative measures that reduce the community needs issues that become public safety issues.
Forensic Science Department Approved
At its February 4 meeting, City Council approved an ordinance to create a Forensic Science Department under the control and direction of the City Manager. The restructuring transfers the Austin Police Department (APD) Forensic Science Bureau funding and positions to the new, independent Forensic Science Department. The change provides is an opportunity for the City to achieve a higher level of forensic objectivity and operational independence in alignment with recommendations included in the Quattrone Report’s comprehensive review of the Austin Police Department DNA Lab. Those findings were released in October 2020. The City Manager’s Office and APD are working together to ensure a seamless transition of Forensic Science Bureau operations to the Forensic Science Department.
Mental Health Services Option Added to 9-1-1
As of February 1, 2021, 9-1-1 callers are now asked if they need police, fire, EMS, or mental health services. This addition is in response to community requests, and Austin represents the first department in the country to include mental health crises in the emergency call triage process. Read more about the initiative.
APD has expended $84.9 million of its $292.9 million budget (29.0%). Programs within the APD Decouple Fund have expended $16.9 million of their $76.6 million budget (22.1%). Programs within the APD Reimagine Safety Fund have expended $10.4 million of their $45.1 million budget (23.1%). Sworn overtime expenses are $5.4 million through the first quarter. An estimated $2.6 million of those expenses are expected to be reimbursed through FEMA and the CARES Act. The total sworn overtime budget of $3.2 million is budgeted in the APD Reimagine Safety Fund.
APD is nearing completion of a zero-based budgeting review of their FY 2020-21 budget. This will serve as the base budget for an outcomes-based budgeting approach, informed by the results of the Reimagining Public Safety process.
Several immediate actions have been completed or addressed in the approved 2021 Budget under the framework of this resolution including:
- Investigation into allegations of racist language use within APD.
- No new sworn positions added to the police department and the elimination of sworn vacancies.
- Increased staffing for mental health first responders and funding established to fully implement First Responder Mental Health Calls for Service.
- Funding for distribution of Naloxone for emergency treatment of narcotics overdoses.
- Increased funding for offices of Police Oversight and Equity, funding for an audit of costs related to suspected and/or confirmed officer misconduct.
- Funding for a process to rewrite police General Orders.
Additionally, as outlined in a memo on August 10, 2020, City staff has developed an initial timeline for transitioning public safety programs and services identified for reimagining. Human resources department staff is conducting leadership team meetings and focus groups with the affected departments to develop recommendations for the City Manager on how to proceed with re-alignment plan with the least amount of impact on department operations and service.
City Council Reimagining Public Safety 2021 Budget Changes
On August 13, 2020, Council approved an APD budget of approximately $290 million which reflects a budget change of $153.2 million.
The adopted budget directs that $153.2 million in police funding to be reallocated in the following ways:
- Reduce & Reinvest APD funding by approximately $31.5 million – taken primarily from cadet classes and overtime – to reinvest in permanent supportive housing and services, EMS for COVID-19 response, family violence shelter and protection, violence prevention, workforce development, and a range of other programs.
- Transfer a number of APD functions (and related funding of approximately $76.6 million) out of APD over the course of the fiscal year. These include Forensics Sciences, Communications/911 call center, strategic support, and internal affairs.
- Create a Reimagine Safety Fund to potentially divert approximately $45.1 million from APD toward alternative forms of public safety and community support as determined through the year-long reimagining process.
Council also directed the City Manager to return to Council no later than March 2021 to amend the public safety budget following public engagement on the Reimagining Public Safety Process.
Council adopted Resolution 20200611-096 on June 11, 2020.