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Staffing Issues, Patrol Car Troubles Impeded APD's Ability To Enforce Traffic Laws, Audit Finds

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon
The Austin Police Department pulled hundreds of Ford Explorers out of service last year because of concerns about carbon monoxide.

Hiring vacancies and safety issues with vehicles limited the Austin Police Department’s ability to enforce traffic laws, according to a report released Tuesday by the City Auditor’s Office.

Last year, the department yanked more than 400 Ford Explorers from the roads because of concerns that carbon monoxide was leaking into the cabins and making officers sick. Because officers then had to double up in other vehicles, the City Auditor found, “the number of units available to conduct traffic enforcement was limited.”

In addition, as of Aug. 1, there were 84 vacancies in APD’s patrol, further limiting the department’s ability to enforce traffic laws.

The audit also looked at the effectiveness of the city’s red-light camera program on traffic safety. The city has 10 cameras at nine intersections in the city, including four along I-35. The auditor found that the total number of crashes decreased significantly – as much as 65 percent – at these intersections after the cameras were installed.

The Austin Municipal Court, along with the Austin Transportation Department and APD, are considering five new locations for the cameras.

Audrey McGlinchy is KUT's housing reporter. She focuses on affordable housing solutions, renters’ rights and the battles over zoning. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @AKMcGlinchy.
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