From the Citizen Led Austin Safety Partnership, "a non-partisan group dedicated to encouraging and sustaining a community-wide network of Neighborhood Watch and Patrol leaders":
"It appears that Community Policing by District Representatives is on the chopping block at APD,", announces CLASP, citing talks about "converting approximately 48 sworn officer positions to civilian jobs": the District Representatives’ positions would be filled by civilians," and concerned about the transfer of DRs "to patrol or other positions within the Department": "we would loose the most important and knowledgeable individuals who provide specialized services to our neighborhoods and our schools, who are liaisons to our communities, and serve our residents with the level of response which requires a sworn peace officer."
"Even if some of the duties can be handled by civilians, the sworn officers are our connection we need in difficult situations," adds CLASP.
What you can do
"The City Council hired Matrix Consulting Group to conduct a Community Policing Study to determine what APD’s community policing plan will be and what measures are required to implement a comprehensive, effective program to serve the people of Austin," then explains CLASP, asking to "please take the survey to give your thoughts and opinions – it’s on the APD website: www.austintexas.gov/department/police"
Deadline is this Friday May 13.
"The survey results will be produced in early June."
"If you believe that keeping the sworn officers as District Representatives that we now have is vital to our city, contact the Mayor, City Manager, all of the City Council Members, and APD. (...) Tell them how DRs are important to your neighborhood and what the effect will be if these officers are taken away. Yes, patrol officers are absolutely needed, but taking our DRs cannot be the only option.
This is the contact information for your use:
"In late March, representatives of CLASP met with Chief Art Acevedo to talk about neighborhood and public safety matters, express our concerns about the DR changes, and to make recommendations we feel would be helpful as Austin increases its Community Policing Program.
Our discussions included APD’s efforts to improve efficiency and effectiveness in the face of budget issues and population growth, our belief that the education and direct services provided and the good will generated by District Reps is as valuable and important as what patrol and other units provide, the benefits of improving and expanding Neighborhood Watch training, coordinating the DRs and community engagement, and establishing an Advisory Board on Community Policing composed of experienced community members, APD staff, and other stakeholders.
We look forward to a continuing dialogue as the process continues."
Read the full blog post on CLASPATX.com.