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Austin police struggling to identify officers in need of help due to reporting issues, audit finds

The APD is already working to address some of the problems, according to auditors.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Austin Police Department is having a hard time identifying officers in need of support due to some significant data reporting issues, according to an audit released this month.

The problem resides within the department's early intervention system (EIS), called the Guidance Advisory Program (GAP). This system's task is to identify officers in need of additional support to do their jobs. 

However, the audit states the APD's GAP system is not working effectively due to these reporting issues.

"When officers are identified for assistance, the GAP does not connect these officers to existing APD support or wellness services," the audit states. "Also, APD does not track or analyze program trends to evaluate officer or program performance to ensure the GAP is fulfilling its mission. In addition, APD management has not generated true program buy-in and the GAP is not working as intended."

According to the report, the APD tracks three performance indicators with preset thresholds to identify those in need of assistance:

  • Response to resistance incidents
  • Internal affairs complaints
  • Use of sick leave

The Department of Justice lists seven best practices for establishing an EIS, all of which the audit found the APD could improve upon:

  • Processes – "APD has established processes for the GAP, but the program is not effective or working as intended."
  • Data collection – "Data tools do not pull all the needed information and more than a third."
  • Support services – "The GAP does not connect officers to support services even though APD has many of the recommended services."
  • Monitoring and improvement – "There is minimal reporting on GAP activations and no trend analysis, tracking, or evaluation."
  • Buy-in – "APD staff have not fully bought in to the GAP."
  • Training – "GAP training is minimal and not provided regularly."
  • Transparency – "The purpose of the GAP and how it works is not clear to all users."

The audit also states the department's GAP might not be tracking the right information to effectively identify those in need of assistance. Additionally, it states that program parameters have "not been reviewed or updated in years," though the APD has recently begun reviewing these parameters for improvements.

The audit also includes a list of recommendations for improvement, all of which management has agreed to work on in the coming months and within the next couple years.

To view the full audit report, click here.

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