In response to the attack in Dallas, Austin police are now on what's called tactical alert. Austin police officers now have the option to double up on certain patrols for the next several days. But Friday afternoon, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said pairing up won’t be city wide because his 'all hands on deck' order is designed to keep back-up close by.
"Violent crime is up in our city, and around the country, July and August are the most violent months of the year, and we want to stem that flow of violence and see if we can knock down the violence and crime rate in the next couple of months,” said Chief Acevedo.
Putting two officers into one car during every patrol shift isn’t possible because there's simply not enough people to do it. Larger academy classes have been authorized, but APA president Ken Casaday says the number of cadets graduating isn't keeping pace with the number retiring.
“I’ve been here for almost 20 years, and I think we've only been fully staffed for about 2 weeks in my entire time here,” said Casaday. Recent police shootings have raised questions about the type of training provided at police academies. Casaday disagrees with that but he believes opportunities for continued education could be increased.
"Tactics are a perishable skill, shooting is a perishable skill, hand to hand combat, unarmed self-defense, they're perishable skills that if you don’t practice them they go away,” Casaday.
Chief Acevedo said the Department, while open to suggestions, has made significant improvements with training.
"Our officers get plenty of training, we continue to provide continued training, when I got here officers were required to do tactical range training one a year, we do that monthly so, I think people tend to forget the journey we've been on together for the last 9 years and I can tell you our training is second to none."
The chief went on to say studies have shown that APD remains understaffed.
He pointed out it's up to city hall to address that issue. While providing additional funding for public safety remains up for debate, Natalie Vaughn, who was moved by the tragedy in Dallas, arrived at police headquarters to offer the one thing she could. A Hug for every police officer she came across.
"I struggled with whether or not to come because I didn't want ... it to appear it was this or that it was black it was blue .... had to do something,” said Vaughn
The hugs from Vaughn may not solve the larger problem of distrust, but her gift from the heart may be something the entire community will be able to embrace.