Thursday, September 4, 2008

Fewer Arrests, not More Officers!

Our officers are some of the highest paid in the country. They are spending hours on end downtown doing paperwork unnecessarily, and now our Chief has ordered them to give tickets and arrest (on Class C misdemeanor charges) homeless people while 58% of violent crime and 88% of property crime goes unsolved.

The City of Austin will, next week, approve the 2008/2009 budget which includes cuts in several departments to afford adding 24 new officers and 61 cars to APD. But we don’t NEED them! If the Chief is actually committed to implementing the Citation Option as he says, why didn’t he present it as a “Cost Savings Initiative” (on page 20)?

APD is about to get almost $4 million more in addition to their huge new labor contract (24 officers x $90,000 = $2,160,000, and 61 police cars x $27,500 (p.44) = $1,677,500) and since we know we can save at least $5.4 million a year by implementing the Citation Option …if we implemented the citation option we wouldn’t need to hire one more officer or buy one more car! Our officers (and their cars) would no longer be spending large blocks of their on-duty time booking people on unnecessary arrests. Instead, they’d could try to solve some of the 58% of Austin's unsolved violent crimes. It would be nice if some of our violent criminals were not still out on the street committing further crime.

Perhaps then too, EMS could have its Cadet Academy training this year; the seriously understaffed parks department wouldn’t have to put a freeze on 24 vacancies; and we wouldn’t have to cut back library hours and they could afford proper security and janitorial services.

Council says by the time one speaks at the public hearing for the budget, as I did last Thursday, it’s too late to change their mind on these very important matters. If you think that shouldn’t be the case, contact your city council members NOW to tell them they have the power of the purse to stop excessive spending on low-level offenses so that the crime in our City that actually affects the PUBLIC’s SAFETY can be better addressed. Tell them: “no more officers or cars until Chief Acevedo implements the Citation Option!"

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