DALLAS — This year the City of Austin experienced a record surge in homicides. With 88 killings so far, the city has had the highest number of homicides in two decades. And it needs more police officers.
In November, the city’s voters rejected Proposition A – a measure that would have forced the city to hire hundreds of new police officers. The defeat of Proposition A doesn’t mean that there isn't a need for more officers. It now has over 200 openings.
Matt Mackowiak, co-founder of Save Austin Now, spearheaded the effort to force the city to hire more officers. Recently, on Inside Texas Politics he said his understanding is that the city has a target of hiring at least 300 officers next year.
Appearing on this week’s Inside Texas Politics, Austin Mayor Steve Adler said the city’s goal is to fill funded but unfilled positions as quickly as possible. But he emphasized that it won’t be soon.
“It’s our goal to fill those as quickly as we can with the new cadet class curriculum that’s been developed," Adler said. "I don’t anticipate that that’s something over the next year – just because it takes time for cadets to go through the training programs.”
Adler also addressed Austin’s affordability. According to a recent Zillow affordability analysis, Austin is now the seventh least-affordable city in the United States. It fell six spots down from last year’s Zillow affordability ranking. The Central Texas city will become the least-affordable city outside California by the end of 2021.
Adler admitted that affordability is a concern.
“Although the city creates more new housing now, per capita than any city in the country, no one is even close to what Austin is doing now. But even with that, it’s not enough, and this is really our existential challenge," Adler said. "We have to be able to maintain the diversity of people that live in our city, or we’ll lose what makes Austin magical.”