The Austin Chronicle

APD Begins Mandatory Overtime

By Chase Hoffberger, July 15, 2016, News

The Austin Police Department instituted mandatory overtime staffing on Tuesday, continuing through the next two weeks, at which point the department will "reassess to see if there is a continued need." Police Chief Art Acevedo wrote in a memo to Austin Police Association president Ken Casaday that the decision to shift into "this emergency posture" is the result of civilian-police relations of late; specifically, the five officers killed in Dallas, "the attacks on officers across the country following the Dallas attack," and current threats to police officers in this city. APD Chief of Staff Brian Manley said the latter is in reference to an anonymous Twitter account that threatened to shoot up a bunch of officers on Sixth Street Wednesday night, but that the account was quickly deleted (along with its messages), and APD doesn't consider the threat legitimate. Still, Manley stated, "These are considered a crime, and we will prosecute if we identify the individual responsible for this specific tweet."

Acevedo said he hopes to fill APD's patrol vacancies with volunteers for overtime. Local government code stipulates that he has the authority to enforce mandatory overtime protocols during any "state of emergency" (as the file detailing the memo is labeled) in the event that not enough officers step up so willingly. The department currently has 119 patrol vacancies (down after Friday's training academy graduation of 37 new officers), but another 30 spots will open up when officers assigned to APD's Special Response Team head off to the Republican National Convention this weekend (87 from APD will be in Cleveland for four days). Some of those shifts should get picked up by detectives and desk job cops heading back to patrol for weeks at a time as part of a backfill program begun in May.

Acevedo plans to keep the plan for "volunteer 100% overtime" in action through August "to allow us additional resources to reduce our violent crimes," which this year have spiked, particularly in cases of aggravated assault and robbery.

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