Part I Violent Crime Rate per 1,000 Population
The FBI identifies seven “Part I Index Crimes” based on their seriousness and frequency of occurrence. Four of these are considered violent crimes: murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. The Austin Police Department (APD) reports crime counts to the FBI, whose Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program provides consistent crime reporting across the country.
Violent crimes are counted by either number of victims (murder, rape, aggravated assault) or number of offenses (robbery). The violent crime rate is calculated by dividing the violent crime count by a population factor (Austin population divided by 1,000). For prior years (FY 2014-15 and earlier), APD reports the FBI’s UCR violent crime rate. This rate is considered official, and it is calculated using the calendar year and Austin’s US census population. For FY 2015-16, the violent crime rate is based on a fiscal year and the full-purpose population. The FBI will release its official, final results in 2017.
FY 2015-16 Results
In FY 2015-16, there were 4.13 crimes per 1,000 residents, which was 17% below the estimate of 4.96.
Assessment of Results
The violent crime rate in FY 2015-16 is up 11% compared to the previous fiscal year. In calendar year 2015, Austin’s violent crime rate was 3.73, 52% below the rate of 7.75 for large US cities.* Between FY 2015-16 and FY 2014-15, Austin dropped from 2nd to 4th safest city in the violent crime rate out of the largest US cities (population of 500,000 and greater).
To compare other violent crime components, during FY 2015-16, Austin’s homicide rate was 0.04 per 1,000 residents (35 murders), 57% higher than the previous year with 23 murders. In FY 2015-16, Austin's rate of 0.7 rapes was 35% higher than the previous year, but overall, it was 10% lower compared to other large US cities. In FY 2015-16, Austin’s rate of 1.1 robberies was 10% higher than the previous year but 62% lower compared to other large US cities. Austin’s rate of 2.3 aggravated assaults was 5% higher compared to FY 2014-15 but was 51% lower than large US cities.
Faced with the resulting staffing challenges, patrol shifts were less able to provide the same levels of violent crime deterrence as in past years. To combat this, APD required 377 detectives and non-patrol officers to perform critical patrol functions for one week every four months to offset patrol vacancies. This initiative, which began in May, increased the department's capacity to respond to 9-1-1 calls and helped provide a visible presence in the community. With improved sworn staffing levels, the department could increase its community engagement time, which helped to both reduce crime and improve community-police relations. This model has proven successful with the department's Restore Rundberg initiative which reduced violent crime in target areas.
In FY 2015-16, as part of a campaign with Equality Texas, APD launched training to introduce officers and cadets to issues of intimate partner violence in the LGBTQ community, which will be integrated into general training on domestic violence.
Additionally, in FY 2015-16, APD continues its partnership with AISD Police Department to provide Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT) to AISD students. This program teaches kids to manage their anger and respect others through discussions, role playing, and group work. The two main focuses of the GREAT program are gang resistance and decision making.
In FY 2016-17, the department will add 21 civilian positions in order to reallocate 21 sworn employees currently performing civilian work to patrol activities. This will increase our community engagement time which will help our efforts to reduce violent crime.
Over the years, there has been a national decline in applications to law enforcement. As a result, APD has put an increased emphasis on recruiting – streamlining the process and increasing Academy class sizes. Current projections estimate 137 cadets will graduate from the Academy in FY 2016-17.
*2015 Restated from previous assessment to replace unofficial, fiscal year results with official, calendar year results. Comparison crime for large US cities (populations between 500,000 – 1,500,000) is based on the most recent FBI data for 2015. (Austin’s Full Purpose population was 913,917 in 2016).
For more information contact Brian Manley, Chief of Police at (512) 974-5030.