Following the pending expiration of a controversial Austin Police Department labor contract, the Austin Police Department said 33 members of its force have announced their retirement.
Those members include seven lieutenants, nine sergeants, five detective corporals and 12 officers, all of which had at least 23 years of experience, Austin police said at a press conference Friday.
Following the end of the contract as the clock strikes midnight Friday, the department will revert back to Texas Local Government Code Chapter 143, which some believe will pose limitations. At a press conference Friday, Assistant Police Chief Troy Gay said some of those limitations include going from a year-round recruitment test process to one that's only once a year.
An open letter from the office of Mayor Steve Adler stated that working under 143 may not be optimal, but it is doable.
"Operating under Chapter 143 would mean we can't use the hiring and promotion procedures we've developed and thus would probably not achieve the diversity we seek in the police force – and toward which Austin has made good strides," the letter states. "Under Chapter 143, we will probably not maintain all the community and civilian oversight of incidents this community has achieved over time and through steady collaboration among community activists, organizational leaders, city staff, and the Police Association."
However, Gay said citizens should not expect any type of change in service from officers and that they will continue to serve with pride.
Gay also stated that 93 new cadets graduated last week and the department is already beefing up efforts to address the loss of staff as academies will begin in February and later in the year.