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APD Budget: No 911 Call Takers Added

Updated: Tuesday, June 3 2014, 03:12 PM CDT
Austin police presented its initial proposed budget to the Public Safety Commission Monday afternoon.  The commissioners were not happy.  It seems Austin's 911 center needs its own rescuing.

After seeing the effects of the 911 call taker shortage in longer hold times, and police response times, the Austin Police Department told the Public Safety Commission Monday "we do not have any 911 positions in our proposed budget."  The news came from Chief Brian Manley in response to a question from Commissioner Levy.

"That's very frustrating," exclaimed Public Safety Commissioner Kim Rossmo.  It's frustrating for him because this critical need has been unmet several years.  It puts your safety at risk.  "We've had that happen with the Halloween flooding.  Why do we have to have it happen again?  The problem has been identified. Let's fix it!" Rossmo continued.

Chief Manley says Austin police have a fix.  They plan to recommend adding nine additional 911 call takers. 

Commissioner Levy was surprised at that number. "Ok, help me out here.  Did you say 9?" Levy asked Manley.
"Yes" replied Manley.

Commissioners were also frustrated that the request for more calls takers comes second to a request for personnel to respond to open records requests.  Manley says the department's request for records has increased more than five-fold. The law says those requests must be filled in a certain time frame.

"We get this silliness where that becomes more of a priority than 911 call takers" Rossmo  charged.

The notion this proposal is meant to be revenue neutral didn't sit well with Commissioner Rossmo either.  "As people's property taxes jump 10 percent sometimes more, where is that money going" he asked.

One thing almost everyone agrees on is the fact we need more call takers.  We will know how much we really need when the 911 center commander releases an analysis.  That's expected later this month.APD Budget: No 911 Call Takers Added

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