Work Session - DPS Briefing

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Alison Alter
Posts: 221
Joined: Fri Jan 13, 2017 3:52 pm

Work Session - DPS Briefing

Post by Alison Alter »

Dear Colleagues,

Tomorrow at work session we will have an opportunity to hear from the City Manager, the Police Chief, and DPS leadership. I am looking forward to an important and constructive discussion. In my view, we need to build a shared understanding of what defines success in this partnership, what measures will demonstrate effectiveness, and what strategies and tools we can deploy to reach our goals. I believe our approach needs to reflect our community’s values and be strategic, sustainable, and transparent.

It is pretty clear that at this point we are missing the mark.

I believe that as a council we all want to decrease police response times, prevent violent crime, and improve traffic safety. We also want everyone to feel safe and we understand that cannot be true if racial profiling continues. What little data we have suggests that we have much room to improve.

We need to explore what changes we can make to achieve our goals. For instance, we can use our Vision Zero program to identify the major highways and arterials with the most traffic incidents and accordingly deploy DPS troopers for traffic enforcement. The evidence to date indicates DPS is addressing noncompliance issues on the East side. Austin’s staffing levels have meant that we have fewer detectives to work important cases. Why don’t we leverage DPS’s expertise for investigations or DWI enforcement? We recently saw the DPS Violent Crimes Task Force stop a fentanyl operation and help us arrest those involved with the street takeovers.

City management and DPS need to do a better job keeping both the council and the community informed. We have been told this is a data-driven policy. So far we have seen no data from DPS and we must see it tomorrow. We still need some very basic information – like how many troopers are here each day – that is critical to moving forward strategically, sustainably, and transparently.

If this partnership continues, the City needs to collaborate not just with DPS, but also with our county leadership who play a big role in administering our criminal justice system. We must recognize that our actions are part of a larger system, with consequences that we must consider and lessons that we need to learn.

Finally, our goal is to make everyone in our community feel safe now and in the future. That must include all neighborhoods and all backgrounds. We cannot let the DPS partnership distract us from moving forward with effective plans to recruit, train, and retain our police officers.

We were elected to council to ensure the safety and values of our residents and to hold all police in our city accountable to that vision. This must be our priority on Tuesday.

Regards,

Alison Alter
Council Member, District 10