City announces pay package for Austin Police Department

The City of Austin announced details of a new pay package for the Austin Police Department, which includes a 4% raise for all officers effective April 1. 

The Austin Police Association says this does not entice them to head back to the table to negotiate a contract with the city.

"It's a good faith effort by me and the city council to say that we do respect our police," said Mayor Kirk Watson. 

The pay package is the result of an ordinance Austin City Council unanimously passed on Feb. 23 that directed Interim City Manager Jesús Garza to develop the plan.

On top of the raise, the pay package includes up to a $15,000 incentive for new cadets and retention incentives for current officers, including pay increases for those close to retirement.

Mayor Watson says this is a way to show police the city cares as it waits for the Austin Police Association to negotiate a new contract before the current one expires on March 31.

"This is an effort to demonstrate respect. If the police association came back to the table, you can see that we're willing to talk to them because we want those police officers to stay, and we want to be able to recruit additional police officers," said Mayor Watson.


Austin Police Association President Thomas Villarreal says it is not that easy.

"You can't just throw more money at every single problem that you have with your police officers," he said.

APD Chief Joseph Chacon wrote in a statement, "This plan demonstrates the commitment this city has to keeping its word and supporting our officers. APD officers keep this community safe, and they deserve to be compensated well for doing so, this plan is an important part of ensuring officers feel valued by the people they serve."

The raise and added benefits are something Villarreal can get behind, but he says the reason why APA has not returned to the negotiation table goes beyond money.

"It's, you know, a defunding and reimaging of how we do things. It's the removal of 150 vacancies. It's no support during the protests and riots of 2020. It's the continual, you know, belaboring of payouts associated with the riots of 2020," he said.

He adds the officers want to feel appreciated and respected by the council, and it is going to take a lot more than a raise to get APA to negotiate a police contract with the city before March 31.

"I just know how our people feel and, you know, our people want to feel appreciated," said Villarreal.

Villarreal believes APD officers will be working without a contract come April 1. The City put in safety nets that protect officers’ benefits and pay in case that does happen.