911 Staffing Levels Questioned After Chaos in Austin Street

911 Staffing Levels Questioned

911 staffing levels were questioned during the recent chaos in Austin street. While the Austin Police Department is facing scrutiny after the street racing incident that resulted in an officer’s injury and several damaged police cars. The incident took place at the intersection of South Lamar Boulevard and Barton Springs Road and has drawn attention to the police department’s vacancies and problems with the 911 call center.

Austin Police Under Scrutiny
911 Staffing levels questioned during chaos in Austin street. (Photo: CBS Austin)

According to Fox News, Council members Mackenzie Kelly and Alison Alter are among those speaking out about the police department’s staffing crisis and the impact it has on the safety of the city’s residents and visitors. Alter reported being on hold for 28 minutes after calling 911 to report the street takeover.

The emergency communications division has been dealing with a staffing crisis for several months, and the 911 call center has lowered its minimum staffing requirements due to unprecedented vacancy rates according to Statesman.com. In October, the average hold time for 911 calls in Austin was two-and-a-half minutes, far below the national standard of 90% in 15 seconds or less.

READ ALSO: Fatal Driveway Shooting Case: Texas Police Share Suspect’s Photos

The city council recently voted to extend the contract between the city and the Austin Police Association for one year, with only Kelly and Alter voting against the extension. The union had been negotiating a four-year agreement with the city, but that deal appeared to fall through after the termination of the city manager.

Austin’s city council voted to slash APD’s funding by about one-third in 2020, but the funding was later restored to comply with a state law passed in 2021. However, the damage had been done, with officers leaving the department in droves, specialized units reduced or disbanded, and canceled cadet classes.

The street racing incident highlights the urgent need for more police officers in the city, and for reinstating specialized units. Council member Kelly emphasizes the importance of improving police oversight and accountability but also recognizes the critical need for more police officers to patrol the streets and respond to calls for service.

The situation in Austin is a reminder of the challenges faced by police departments across the country, and the importance of finding a balance between accountability and support for law enforcement.

READ ALSO: Mexican Teen’s High-Speed Chase in Texas Ends With Lenient Consequences