AUSTIN - The Austin Police Department continues to lose more officers.
According to Austin police, four more have retired so far this year, increasing the total number of officers who have left APD since contract talks failed at the end of December to 37.
As of last week, two former Austin police officers have signed up with the Williamson County Sheriff's Office.
But Sheriff Robert Chody said not to blame him, as he said he knows how to appreciate men and women who serve.
Since posting a picture of him swearing in a new deputy on social media Monday afternoon, Sheriff Chody said his phone has been blowing up.
"Do you have openings? How long will you have openings?" Chody describing the questions from the phone calls, text messages and social media messages he has been receiving.
That's because the picture is of the sheriff swearing in one of two former Austin police officers he just hired. One of them you may remember.
In August 2017, Jason Borne helped an Austin mother down on her luck; a woman he met on patrol and who was walking her 3-year-old daughter from the grocery store to the dentist because she didn't have a car.
He ended up raising money to buy her a new car.
Borne said he was already thinking about leaving the department so he can spend more time on a growing business. But the failed contract talks between the Austin Police Association and the City of Austin was the last straw.
"Things that have been going on in Austin lately with the contract negotiations and things like that, it went from being on the fence to kind of pushed on," said Borne.
Borne said it has to do with appreciation.
"It makes a big deal to the people putting on the uniform and going out there working and knowing they are appreciated and that they're risking a lot," Borne said.
Sheriff Chody, a former Austin police officer himself from 1997 to 2003, said officers in Austin are not appreciated and instead, often criticized .
"They're often viewed in a negative way for doing what they were lawfully doing just because of the environment they're in, just because it's Austin and, in some cases, that wouldn't be true here in Williamson County," the Sheriff explained.
He also said the political climate in Austin doesn't lend itself to an officer-friendly environment.
"The political realm that they work in is different than most of the area that surrounds Austin, so they may be paid different but it comes at a price, let me tell you that," said Sheriff Chody.
But money is a factor as well.
Soon, hundreds of Austin police officers will get their first paycheck since contract negotiations between the police union and the City of Austin failed at the end of December.
"For several of our younger officers, the ones that can't afford to lose it, are losing anywhere from $500 to $1,000 a month because of the soft pay issues," said Casaday.
Even as Austin police are among the highest paid in the state, Casaday says people often forget that Austin's cost of living is higher.
KVUE has also learned at least one other department is coming to Austin to recruit APD officers.
A spokesperson confirmed that representatives from the San Antonio Police Department will be here on Jan. 19 -- a highly unusual move, according to Casaday and Sheriff Chody.
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