Austin police adjusting to policing with two-officer teams

The Austin Police Department said it’s still adjusting after downsizing its fleet, because dozens of Ford Police Interceptors were found to be leaking carbon monoxide. APD said while not as many patrol vehicles would be on the road, operations would remain the same.

After years of operating in single-officer units, the Austin Police Department is doubling up in cars which is a new model and style of policing for the department.

Christopher Irwin is a Senior Police Officer, “On a day to day citizen interaction, they're probably not going to notice a difference cause most of the time you have one officer dispatched to the car, and another officer as a backup, now they're just arriving at the same time.”

APD sidelined nearly 400 Ford Police Interceptors after dozens were found to be leaking carbon monoxide fumes, exposing dozens of officers. This dropped APD's fleet of 400 vehicles to 200 meaning officers having to double up in remaining sedan type cars.

Irwin said this model of policing isn't by any means new.

New York City and Los Angeles are just a couple of many cities operating with two-officer teams.

Interim Chief Brian Manley said they would be monitoring response times, but Irwin said priorities haven't and will not change, “Violent crimes, crimes in progress, persons or property are going to handled first, because we are trying to stop the violence and we are trying to prevent someone from a large property loss,” Irwin said.

For community members, if you need an officer, you're still going to get one, just now maybe two.

“If you're in trouble and you call 911 and you have an emergency, the police department will respond.” Irwin said for non-emergencies, such as car accidents where no one is hurt to call 3-1-1, or use their app.

“There's a misconception that calling 311 or using the APD app means that you're not really documented properly and the police department won't investigate it, that's not true at all.”

Another misconception, Irwin said is patrolling.

He said they still have the same number of officers on the roadways, just fewer cars.

But  this also means an extra set of eyes not focused behind the wheel, “When you're driving around, you're focused on the roadway, you're focused on the vehicles, and what calls are coming out, while your partner is able to work the computer, he's able to look around for any suspicious behavior.”