AUSTIN, Texas - The Austin Police Department (APD) held a press conference to talk about their decision to change the way they respond to certain 911 calls. Police officers will stop responding in person to non-emergency calls in October amid severe staffing shortages in the department.
FOX 7 Austin carried the press conference live on our website and Youtube channel.
WATCH THE PRESS CONFERENCE HERE:
APD to stop police response to non-emergency calls
Austin police is changing the way they respond to certain 911 calls.
Beginning in October, what the Austin Police Department considers to be a non-emergency call might not have a police officer respond.
APD is urging people to use 311 instead of 911 when it comes to reporting crimes that are no longer in progress, when the suspect is no longer on scene, or when there is no immediate threat to life or property.
"It seems like that would be almost unheard of. This is something we never dreamed of happening in a prosperous city such as Austin where taxes are high and the public expects to be safe," said Charley Wilkison, executive director of CLEAT. "If they’re not going to come to that call just think about how that would feel if you were to call 911 and they told well this is not a real emergency."
A spokesperson for the police department told FOX News earlier this week that while a sworn-in police officer may not respond to these non-emergency situations, there could be instances where a civilian officer such as a crime scene technician could take their place.
"The public when they take the time to notify the police that they need help naturally they need police to be there and expect it," said Wilkison.
According to APD this is the result of a recent review of their COVID-19 mitigation protocol, the current staffing shortage, as well as Aligning with the reimagining public safety task force recommendations.
The police department has struggled with staffing issues even going as far as pulling officers from specialized units onto patrols.
In 2020 the Austin City Council moved to temporarily delay cadet classes with the department in order to examine their curriculum. After about a year the classes returned this summer.
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