(TargetLiberty.org) The Austin Police Department is facing a staffing crisis which might get worse in 2023. As of January 2023, 50 Austin police officers have already signed their retirement papers, while another 27 retirement packages are out for signature.
The Austin Police Association had previously agreed to new four-year contracts that would replace the current agreement following its expiration at the end of March. The longer contracts are meant to help attract new recruits while also being more attractive to high-quality officers that the department wants to retain.
However, on Feb. 15, the Austin City Council voted in favor of shorter one-year contracts which have led to tension with the police union and a halt in the police contract negotiations. With police contracts not yet agreed upon, the city council has had to pass a temporary ordinance that would guarantee the wages and benefits of the police force. Despite this, dozens of officers are considering leaving the force.
By the end of March, there are 77 officers that could retire. This is the highest number of possible retirements in the last 4 years. According to the Austin Police Retirement System, in the first quarters of 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022 there were 10, 31, 44, and 31 respectively.
There are also another 232 officers who can either retire or are in a position to buy additional service credit that would allow them to retire early.
The increase in retirements has been closely linked to the city council’s decision to cut the police department by a third in August 2020.
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