Thursday, July 3, 2008

What are they hiding?

The City of Austin's responses to our public information requests have trickled in, but we still lack an important piece: the cost to Austin taxpayers each time APD chooses to arrest, book and incarcerate a person whom they could have given a citation.

Not only did
we request this information, but so did the chair of the City's Public Safety Task Force (PSTF), Councilmember Mike Martinez, at the June 2nd meeting. APD was charged with bringing this info to the July 7 meeting, but lo and behold that meeting has been canceled so APD got a reprieve until the next PSTF meeting on August 4th. Meanwhile, the contract negotiations between the police union and the City are at their apex with the union continuing the long-held mantra "we need more staff!"

Why would APD hide these costs? Is it because they know that we might be able to make a VERY strong case that implementing the Citation Option would save taxpayers from having to foot a public safety bill we simply cannot afford? It's hard to believe that officers on the street would want to continue to arrest people when they could just give them a citation, freeing up their time to handle more serious issues. It's hard to believe that the City would want to negotiate to sacrifice important social services and infrastructure our city needs in favor of more police we don't need. This act would not only strain the budget, but increase liability by unnecessarily placing people in jail. Our new City Manager seems like a reasonable, fiscally conservative and non-politicized man. Hopefully, the outcome of the negotiations will reveal these observations to be true.

Meanwhile, who at the City is standing in the way of revealing the costs of APD's unnecessary arrests?

Feel free to make your own requests of this information to our City Manager, Mayor and Councilmembers. Unless they know that Austin
ites care about how their tax dollars are spent, they may not act in the public's best interest. They'll act in the interest of those closest to them ... with all of their political intentions.

Learn more here and send the Chief an email asking him to implement the Citation Option!


Anonymous said...

As a police officer in Austin we have been citing and releasing people that fall into this catagory. That being in possession of marijuana for personal use and citing people for DWLS forst offense. I have no idea where you're getting your information from but it's wrong. We as officers applauded this change and have supported it from it's conseption.

Deb said...

Thank you for your support. In response to your query, we got our information directly from APD, all of which has now been posted on the website.

Burt said...

I echo the officer above. Officers would prefer to cite than arrest for non violent misdemeanors.APD HAS been citing for PDP and DWLI for awhile.
I think the part that has not been implemented yet has been the class A offenses.
I was informed that the Travis County municipal court is still working out the process for the Class B and A citations as I had one returned that I issued at the beginning of the year.

Please do not point at APD officers and say that "they" are making unnecessary arrests,we have guidelines to follow or else we get fired as you may have seen recently. I would prefer you state the "Chief of Police" as opposed to lumping the other 1500 APD officers into the category.
We follow the rules the Chief makes. Thanks