1. New 2022 APD Payroll: The auditors at OpenTheBooks.com just received the Austin Police Department payroll figures from fiscal year 2022. What did you find in the 911 operator position?
A: The headcounts of 911 operators dropped significantly between 2021 and 2022. In 2021, there were 87 operators and that dropped to 73. However, that doesn't tell the whole story: only 56/73 were 'active' in the system, as the rest were terminated. Sharp drop.
Furthermore, the 911 operator payroll was defunded by nearly $300,000 between 2021 and 2022. In 2021, the city paid $4 million in salary and overtime to the 911 operators and last year only $3.7 million was paid out.
The city says that it's having staffing problems. Well, we found the average 911 operator makes $50,000 in base salary and $8,000 in overtime.
2. What about police officers? Is the city giving us the whole picture when it comes to headcounts of police officers?
A: The city budgeted for 1,809 sworn officers. But that's not the number on staff. The counts are significantly lower.
The headcounts of police officers dropped between 2021 and 2022. In 2021, there were 1764 officers and that dropped to 1692. However, that doesn't tell the whole story: only 1503 were 'active' officers in the system, as188 were terminated, retired, or quit, and four were on leave. Sharp drop.
Furthermore, it's NOT going to get better soon. There were only 67 active cadets in the system starting FY2023.
The city says that it's having staffing problems. Well, we found the average police officer makes $100,000 in base salary and $20,000 in overtime.
3. Again, you looked into the spending on credit cards — did you find any frivolous expenditures?
Last year, APD spent $162,000 on flights to conferences. For just one gathering in Washington D.C. (National Police Memorial) the department spent $30,000 on flights for 85 officers and kept them out there for four days with another $31,000 in hotel charges and probably another $30,000 in food (we don't have those charges yet; however, it was probably $100 per diem/per day).
When the cost of salaries for four days and 85 officers gets factored in, this trip cost taxpayers another $200,000 (85 officers x $80 per hour (no overtime) x 32 (4 days at 8 hours of regular pay per day)= $217,600.
When the department can't staff basic positions, but spends big on travel, it starts to look like there's a problem with leadership.
When you call 911, you need action. You don't need to be told that $300,000 was spent sending the department to an event in DC.