Crimewatch: APD to add officers to understaffed department in Oc

Crimewatch: APD to add officers to understaffed department in October

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The Austin City Council spent about $100,000 to find out that the Austin Police Department is understaffed. Many APD insiders say they could have saved taxpayers a lot of money because APD needing more manpower is no secret. Officers have been dealing with a never ending work load for a while.

Assistant Chief, David Carter, says he wasn't surprised with the Police Executive Research Forum's findings.

"I think it validates the fact that APD is a very busy department," said Carter.

It said APD is so busy that it struggles somewhat to keep up with service response and incoming flow of criminal cases.

The PERF study recommends adding 257 officers by 2017, something that Carter says isn't happening, at least not at this time. The department is slated to get 22 sworn officers in October.

So why did taxpayers spend all that money for the study?

"A conversation was started what's the right way to determine the right amount of officers," said Carter.

That conversation cost taxpayers about $100,000. The PERF study also recommends adding detective positions to nearly every unit except financial crimes. It suggests decreasing the unit by two detectives.

"Credit card abuse, debit card abuse, we see a lot of those. We also see a lot of identity theft," said Sgt. James Jardine.

Sgt. Jardine says his 10 detectives worked more than 9,000 cases in 2011. One of them was Elena Lopez, who works as a nurse.

"It's a huge stress in your life," said Lopez.

Police say Stephany Laminack stole Lopez's purse out of her locker at a south Austin medical facility last August. Laminack stole money, credit cards, debit cards, and Lopez's identity.

"She went to South Austin Hospital and had some sort of ER procedure done under my name," said Lopez. "I had to get a new drivers license, I had to get a new social security card for myself and my kids. I had to get credit cards replaced. I had to get new insurance cards."

Lopez knows her case may have taken longer to resolve if the financial crimes unit had fewer detectives. That's why Assistant Chief Carter says even though the study recommended cutting the unit by two, it probably won't happen.

Since the report was spearheaded by Council Member, Bill Spellman, who is out on medical leave, it is unknown what he plans to do with the study.

For now, Carter says the report will act as a template for the department.

"It illustrated to the police department a method in which the future we can actually use this thing and try to justify the need for additional officers," said Carter.

Carter stresses the department would love the recommended number of officer positions but it's just not realistic under the current city budget.

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