Residents can expect to see new branding of Austin Police Department facilities and vehicles in what Police Chief Brian Manley calls an effort to make Austin the “country’s safest city.”
During a news conference Thursday, Manley released an updated report outlining the department’s goals to improve community policing. He said the police department's new tagline “One Austin. Safer Together” will help reflect the values of the police force and residents.
“This is how we will gear all of our efforts going forward,” Manley said. “We really want to push this out.”
Manley said APD’s mission and value statements have been updated and will be displayed in all police facilities around the city.
“[Austin] is an innovation hub,” he said. “The police department should be no different, and we should be continually looking for ways not to only advance our department, but our profession.”
In a 2016 assessment, California-based Matrix Consulting Group recommended the department clarify its mission and values. The report looked at APD’s community-policing procedures and came up with nearly 80 recommendations. The department is pursuing about 16 of those.
Improving recruitment was on that list. Manley said the APD currently has about 60 vacancies and that the department has refurbished its recruiting site. Ninety-four cadets will begin the department’s police academy next week.
“We know that when this class graduates, it’s going to get us much closer to our authorized strength level, and we’re already recruiting for the next cadet class,” Manley said.
Incoming cadets can expect about two extra weeks of training, which the police chief said would be administered by community leaders from various organizations.
The class of 94 cadets is the first to be recruited under a state-mandated civil service law, which the department must work under until a new police contract can be negotiated. City Manager Spencer Cronk, who was at Thursday's news conference, said final contract talks are in the works.
Beginning Oct. 1, Manley said, every APD officer will undergo mandatory de-escalation training. Officers will also continue working to support members of the homeless community and reduce their arrests.
The police chief also emphasized a health and wellness committee focused on the mental health and overall wellbeing of officers.
“We all know that a workforce that is healthy and well will be top performing,” he said. The committee will help assess early signs of trauma and teach coping mechanisms.
“Again, this was a review of our department that we took very seriously,” Manley said. “I’m proud to say the men and women of the Austin Police Department have worked diligently toward advancing community policing.”