Solutions for the APD Officer Staffing Shortfall

Greetings, Austin! 

I hope this email finds you and your loved ones well.

This month’s newsletter goes deeper regarding the first plank of my campaign platform: Ideas to restore APD police staffing to what Council has recently budgeted, to pre-2020 levels. (See highlighting below.)

The APD 144th Class of 66 officers, from an original 100 cadets, graduated on Jan. 28, 2022. These are high quality, educated and experienced – mostly young people with families – who made it through 8 months of intense training on about $1,000/week pay. (I believe cadet pay should be increased.)

The keynote speaker at the 144th Commencement, Admiral Bobby R. Inman (Ret.) with his years of wisdom and high-level experience cut right to heart of the problem with the following quote:

“You are the front line of public safety in this community. … The reality of the level of manning that we have in the Austin Police Department is that you are going to work long hours and that you are going to be under stress for a good deal of time. … Much of that stress comes from the decision to cancel three preceding police academy classes. … The critical issue is you have to have a constant flow, but none of those academies are perfect, and there’s the need to constantly review them and change. In retrospect, the decision to cancel, as opposed to changing-in-process, leads to the stress that you will now operate under with a shortage of numbers, and there’s no easy near-term solution to that. There are limits in facilities – the numbers of people who can be trained – so I can’t offer you any early relief from the stress that you are going to encounter…,” Adm. Bobby R. Inman (Ret), Jan. 28, 2022, to the 144th APD Class

Quorum (7) of the Austin City Council sat behind Admiral Inman, as he spoke, with a few of them visibly adjusting their demeanor as he said that. Bravo, Admiral Inman! (Was that ‘noticed’?)

Here are the current APD Police Officer Staff numbers:

Staffing as of (1/29/22)* = 1,401 (includes 66 from the 144th Class)

Count on Leave (injured, sick, military, suspensions, etc.) = 230

Total = 1,631 (all ranks)

Count of Vacancy = 178 (these are hard vacancies that APD is short of what City Council has budgeted)

Current APD attrition rate is just above 15/month. This is the driving metric for staffing levels right now.

The 145th Class is anticipated to start on March 28. (class of ~100)

The 146th Class is anticipated to start in June 2022. (class of ~50)

The 147th Class is not budgeted for but may start in October 2022. APD Recruiting is hoping they will get authorization to start with a class of ~100.

The cadet classes are running between 34-36 weeks long. After the academy, officers ride with an FTO (Field Training Officer) for 12 weeks. Upon completion of the FTO 12-week period they then transition to working by themselves in patrol on an assigned patrol shift.  So, it is almost a year-long training process, at the end of which there is still a lot of practical experience to be gained.

The modified class (prior experience) is already allowed by contract and that is what the 146th cadet class is anticipated to be.

With projected numbers for APD officer staffing, using the numbers Recruiting has provided and a 33% attrition rate for cadets, with an officer attrition rate of 15/month, by this upcoming December 2022, the Department’s officer staffing level could be 1,540. That could be 25 fewer officers than before the 144th graduated. Not a good position to be in. And that is if recruiting can get 100 qualified and motivated cadets for the 145th cadet class and 50 for the 146th modified cadet class.

A few ways to address these problems, vetted by professionals, include:

A. Retention:

  • Add financial incentives to the current staffing to help create an environment where officers are willing to stay to keep the experience, knowledge and talent in the department.
  • Ensure contract negotiations are proceeding in a positive, timely manner to create a positive atmosphere for the current employees to show they are valued. Negative contract negotiations could encourage those on the fence to decide to leave and take their talents elsewhere.
  • Reduce City of Austin leadership’s animosity toward police, which in turn will bring a more positive work environment for the officers while they do an already difficult job with limited resources.

B. Recruiting:

  • Need to get more officers in the recruiting pipeline to be able to move past the attrition rate and get the numbers of officers up to more effective staffing numbers. Budget and start the 147th Class by last quarter of 2022.
  • Look for creative ways to encourage retired / resigned police officers to come back to APD. This is important.
  • The contract and pension system will play a part in how effective recruiting will be in the future. Many police departments across the U.S. are competing for a limited number of well-qualified candidates who are willing to do law enforcement in the current environment.

C. Responsible Legal Support:

  • Ensure the officers’ basic rights are retained and that they do not lose civil service protections.
  • Support officers in litigation when the officer’s conduct was within policy, within State law, and recognized as a function of their responsibility to act in order to keep the public peace.

The Austin Police Dept. is still facing a major staffing crisis that the Mayor and prior City Council unnecessarily created with the elimination of several cadet classes, rather than ‘improve-in-process,’ as Admiral Inman recently pointed out. It is going to be a challenge to correct that negative direction and for New City Leadership to restore Austin back to being one of the safest cities in America.


Please donate! Help us get the word out – there are solutions! If you are All-In to Restore Austin back to a safe and beautiful city, please join me and let’s DO THIS together! Thank you to those who have already contributed in this campaign cycle for Mayor (maximum allowed per individual is $400/$800 per couple). Let’s drive the agenda! Please share with friends!

We Love Austin,

Jennifer Virden
2022 Candidate for Austin Mayor

Follow on social media at @Jennifer4Austin

*As of the first week of August 2022, the Austin Police Dept. has 256 officer vacancies.