AUSTIN, Texas — Save Austin Now responded to the proposed 2021-22 budget for the City of Austin Monday. The organization said the proposed funding is "wholly inaccurate" for what is needed to improve public safety in Austin.
The group is asking for two officers per 1,000 residents at the Austin Police Department. Organizers and supporters said at a press conference Monday they anticipate the Austin City Council will try to cut down the proposed funds for policing in Austin from the budget when voting on it.
In August 2020, the city council voted to redistribute $150 million from the APD budget, roughly 34% of the department's $434 million total budget. Recently, the APD announced it was temporarily suspending its motors unit due to a lack of funding and officers as a result of the budget cuts.
The newly proposed budget aims to restore funding back to APD and aid the department in providing necessary safety services in Austin.
Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday said 96% of APD shifts do not come fully staffed at a press conference Monday.
To help with staffing shortages, Save Austin Now is asking for more cadet classes. One cadet class is currently going through APD's reimagined police academy. The proposed budget includes funding for two more classes.
Save Austin Now has filed a petition that reflects these changes in an effort to put the ordinance on the November ballot.
The petition needs 20,000 signatures to be certified and put on the ballot in the November election. Currently, it is 5,000 signatures short. The group has 10 days to collect the remaining signatures.
According to a press release from City officials, the budget will also include funding for two additional reimagined police cadet classes to start "fundamentally reforming how we deliver public safety in our community." About $6.2 million is proposed to fund the 144th class and future classes of the "reimagined" APD Training Academy.
The City restarted APD cadet classes this past June with a new reimagined curriculum.
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