The City of Austin has made numerous reforms to public safety over the years, including conducting an investigation of systemic discrimination and bias within APD and establishing the Office of Police Oversight.
The April 24, 2020 death of Mr. Michael Ramos during an interaction with APD officers amplified calls to end disparities in how communities of color are treated when they interact with officers. Those calls became part of a moment of national racial reckoning with the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.
In August 2020, after hours of community testimony, the City Council passed a historic budget to redefine public safety. Also, the City Manager charged his Executive Leadership Team with creating a City-Community Reimagining Public Safety Task Force to consider new ways to help and support the community in times of crisis.
The City of Austin is committed to implementing policy and cultural changes to address the disproportionate impact of police violence on people of color and other affected communities.
In this historic moment, the City Manager and City Council have acted on a series of public safety changes.
The Reimagining Public Safety Leadership team has released a report outlining progress on key RPS initiatives between April and July 2021. Read the report.
Forensic Science and Emergency Communications Update
In February and April 2021, City Council approved two ordinances authorizing the City Manager to transfer the Forensic Science Division and Emergency Communications Division from the Austin Police Department (APD) and create separate departments. On June 26, 2021, Rey Arellano, Assistant City Manager, Public Safety, provided an update on budgeting and transition of the two divisions in light of recent state legislation. Read the update.
Mental Health Diversion Initiative Implementation Update
The Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute (MMHPI) has published an interim report outlining progress on implementation of the Austin CARES program which provides an alternative response to behavioral health emergency calls. The program was created to help the City achieve a goal of safely diverting 100 percent of mental health emergency calls to 911 that do not pose a risk to public safety from a law enforcement response into appropriate care. Read the report.
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.
Update on Evaluation of Sexual Assault Investigations
On June 17, Assistant City Manager Rey Arellano provided an update on the ongoing evaluation of how the Austin Police Department investigates and processes reported sexual assaults. In addition to providing information on progress to date and preliminary observations from the evaluation, the update also included a revised scope of work, budget, and timeline for the project.
The team anticipates being able to complete case review in November 2021, and anticipated completion of the final report is now May 2022. The evaluation is an outcome related to City Council Resolution 20190131-077.
APH Names Office of Violence Prevention Manager
On June 28, Interim Director of Austin Public Health Adrienne Sturrup provided the Mayor and City Council with an update on the department's efforts towards the development and implementation of community violence prevention and intervention programming. The update included the announcement of the hiring of Michelle Myles, who will serve as the Manager for the Office of Violence Prevention (OVP). In this role, Myles will lead violence reduction and community safety programs and strategies to meet the specific needs of Austin and Travis County.
Read the full program update here or click here to read more about the new Manager for OVP.
Office of Police Oversight (OPO) Inaugural Annual Report
On June 16, OPO published its inaugural annual report to document and share OPO’s activities and achievements over 2019 and 2020. OPO accomplished its mission by providing impartial oversight, informing the public to increase transparency, and creating sustainable relationships.