The Rule of Seven
It is said one must state something seven times for another to take action. In the summer of 2020 thousands of protesters in the City of Austin took to the streets demanding police reform. They spoke and others heard.
More than 1000 citizens rallied the repetitive cry of DEFUND APD; this chant, even once, reinforced the Rule of Seven more than 143 times.
The decision to implement change contributed to canceling of cadet classes; decreased morale leading to early retirements and continued challenges in our ability to recruit for those replacements as well as the significant amount of vacancies already existing.
The impact of the above decision had immediate, negative and potentially long lasting impact on our city and our citizens:
Crime Stats issued by the FBI on May 1, 2023 reflect Austin experienced:
27 homicides by 5/1 with 6 of those in a 10 day time frame
On a scale of 1-100
Violent crime is rated at 24.9 with the US average being 22.7
Property crime is rated at 55 with the US average being 35.4
Austin is the 11th most dangerous city in Texas
According to the public website Defund the Police, a police department size calculator for use by the public to compare the size of their police department to similarly sized cities, Austin appears to lag considerably in the size of its force compared to the recommended 1.83 officers per 1000 citizens.
Statistics aside, our city has experienced a noticeable impact to quality and safety of life. The consequences of under-staffing have been experienced throughout our city. It has made officer calls to respond to traffic accidents, theft on job sites, vandalism, property damage or physical altercations impossible. 911 calls can necessarily be diverted to a 311 non-emergency operator.
Theft in the construction industry is on the rise. Tools and equipment are key to our livelihood. Without those tools we are unable to earn a living to support our families. Officers are no longer able to come to the job site to take a theft report. We are left to our own devices to try and file one. Vandalism on our job sites can create delays that impact our ability to earn wages as well. Officer response is impossible due to the shortage of available police personnel. We work long hours and rely on law enforcement to ensure our homes and families are protected while we are away. To know a 911 emergency call can be rerouted to a 311 non-emergency operator is a fear we face daily.
Despite the staffing deficiencies and endless hours our officers are working in an attempt to close the gap of law enforcement officials needed to maintain order and protect our citizens, we fail to herald our officers for jobs well done. An off duty officer came to the rescue of a cyclist hit and laying in the street. The off duty officer remained with the injured party until duty officers were able to respond. Due to short staffing the off duty officer remained at the scene for more than an hour before an on-duty officer was able to respond. There were no chants in the street to thank the APD officer for his sense of duty, responsibility or kindness.
Worldpopulationreview.com projected Austin could easily reach a population of 3.2M by 2030. It is said it could take 10 years for APD to regain staffing levels needed today, not a decade from now. As citizens of Austin we cannot allow our police department to be outnumbered and out-manned by increased crime.
Our police officers are leaving APD for suburbs welcoming their protection, retiring early to escape the lack of respect and disdain for their contributions to protecting our city. We are unable to attract adequate cadet classes for the same reasons. Our industry needs and relies upon APD for the protection of our job sites, our workers and our families. How can we help?
Let’s get back to that Rule of Seven. It’s time we thank our existing officers and APD personnel for their service. As an industry it’s time we chant a 1000 times RESTORE, RESPECT AND SUPPORT APD.