Safety


Safety Outcome: Being safe in our homes, at work, and in our community
The departments that fall under the SD23 Safety Outcome focus their efforts on how our City uses evidence-based strategies to create proactive prevention; build relationships regionally, enhance working with diverse and vulnerable community members; and collaboratively assess and mitigate risk across critical infrastructure systems.
Within the Safety Outcome, the City Council selected the “Fair Administration of Justice” indicator category as a priority. Progress to date includes:

As we saw a major pandemic hit our country and city, public safety operations worked tirelessly to keep us safe at home, at work, and in our community.
This year, the Safety departments’ efforts aligned with Strategic Direction 2023 strategies, specifically continuing to build relationships between community members, organizations, and public safety professionals to define, prioritize, and address community safety needs. The Safety departments also advanced their ability to engage and communicate with the community during the pandemic, critical times, and in emergencies in ways that effectively connected people with accurate information, critical assistance, and support systems for response and recovery.
In addition, their activities enhanced our partnerships with the community, other governmental organizations, and the private sector to prepare for, respond to, and recover from hazards and threats such as the COVID-19 pandemic, flooding, wildfire, and cyber threats. For example, in partnership with Public Works, the Austin Fire Department and Austin/Travis County Emergency Medical Services opened a joint Fire/EMS Station in Del Valle/Moore’s Crossing, the first of five stations to be built as part of Council Resolution No. 20180524-035 to build five new stations in six years and provide improved response times in underserved neighborhoods. Additionally, through effective interdepartmental collaboration, several Safety departments directed efforts towards the Reimaging Public Safety initiative, 911 Operations audit, Dispatch Equity and Optimization Efficiency Study, the Mental Health Diversion initiative, and homelessness.

Austin Code Department partnered with public safety departments during the pandemic by creating a Code-specific COVID-19 dashboard and responded to thousands of COVID-19 related calls. In addition, they continued to create strong community relations through education, created safe environments through collaboration, and delivered fair and just administration through compliance and enforcement.

Austin Fire Department continued to create safer communities through prevention, preparedness, and effective emergency response by becoming the first major city to adopt the Wildland-Urban Interface Code, publishing the Wildfire Hub, and supporting and deploying personnel and resources in response to hurricanes and wildfires.
Austin Municipal Court served our community through trust and accountability by transitioning staff to a teleworking environment, implementing virtual dockets, and installing Plexiglas barriers in all areas of the Court in response to COVID-19.
Austin Police Department (APD) remained committed to its mission of keeping the community safe by uploading significant local and regional information into the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network to address gun crime, coordinated training for community therapists to provide free counseling sessions to victims/survivors of crime, employed the Crisis Call Diversion Program, and implemented Qualtrax, a new document management system. In addition, the department focused efforts towards addressing direction outlined in the City Council’s June Resolutions that contribute to the overall Reimagining Public Safety initiative, taking steps to address disparities in policing communities of color, use of force, and reimagining public safety budget priorities. 
Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services implemented critical needs for our community during COVID-19 by assembling an Infectious Disease Response Unit and establishing a consultation line for 911 callers. Other accomplishments include partnering with Community Care’s Street medicine team to provide regular opioid cessation treatment to individuals experiencing homelessness, stationing a Community Health Paramedic at Community First! Village, and making improvements to three EMS facilities.
Downtown Austin Community Court promoted success through creative solutions during the COVID-19 pandemic for its vulnerable population clients by maintaining walk in case management services, dedicating staff to help with those experiencing homelessness, supporting the Austin Homelessness Advisory Council, and implementing a virtual docket system.

Homeland Security and Emergency Management coordinated preparedness, response, education, and recovery by coordinating the City’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, providing disaster and emergency training opportunities, sheltering people due Hurricane Laura evacuations, and organizing a multi-agency disaster response training
Information Security Office was established in early 2020 and focused on supporting the City’s compliance with emerging privacy laws while implementing a centralized service to protect City websites.
Office of Police Oversight published its first analysis of the Austin Police Department’s traffic stop data and hosted conversations with community about the data, analyzed APD’s Officer Involved Shootings in 2018, recommended improvements to APD’s training academy, and processed thousands of contacts from community members.

Watershed Protection protected lives, property and the environment by purchasing water quality protection lands and high-risk houses from the Onion Creek floodplains, updating critical water quality zones, creating a dashboard to track trends in water quality, and removing debris from homeless encampments.
Browse each department's accomplishments:

Austin Code inspector

Austin Code

  • FY2020 Approved Budget: $27.2 million 
  • Full-time Employees: 148

Accomplishments

  • Responded to over 7,000 COVID-19 related service requests, introduced a virtual inspections pilot program, and created an Austin Code Department (ACD)-specific COVID-19 dashboard to track related complaints investigated by the PACE Team, a partnership of Austin Code, Austin Police Department, and Austin Fire Department.
  • Launched the Suspension & Revocation for Repeat Offender Program.
  • Investigated over 33,000 code complaints and escalated over 500 confirmed code violations cases to quasi-judicial proceedings
  • Strengthened community relations, awareness, and understanding of local code requirements by participating in over 72 community and stakeholder meetings and surpassing our Code Connect goal of answering 6,000 customer calls.
PACE Team is a partnership of Austin Code, Police, and Fire.
 PACE Team vehicle

Austin Fire Department observing 9/11

Austin Fire

  • FY2020 Approved Budget: $206 million
  • Full-time Employees: 1,411

Accomplishments

  • Opened joint Fire/EMS Station in Del Valle/Moore’s Crossing, the first of five stations to be built as part of CouncilResolution No. 20180524-035 to build five new stations in six years.
  • ·Adopted the new 2015 International Wildland Urban-Interface Code, making Austin the first major city in the state of Texas to adopt such a code, which will apply to new construction and remodels in areas of Austin where development meets the wildlands.
  • Published the Wildfire Hub, the first data portal of its kind in Austin that provides information sharing for cross-agency initiatives and grassroots coalition building that will better prepare our community for wildfire.
  • Provided personnel to support local and national deployments for eight local, regional, state, and national incidents, providing resources for incident management, wildfires (including five across Texas and two, two-week deployments in California’s Sierra National Forest), and an all-hazards response for Hurricane Laura.
Opening of Station 50
Opening of Station 50 in Del Valle/Moore’s Crossing
Fighting wildfires in West Texas
ADF fighting wildfires in West Texas

Municipal Court building

Austin Municipal Court

  • FY2020 Approved Budget: $33 million
  • Full-time Employees: 187.75

Accomplishments 

  • Relocated main courthouse from 700 E. 7th St. (downtown) to 6800 Burleson Road, Building 310 (southeast Austin) in March 2020 to provide a safe and stable environment for staff and citizens.
  • Transitioned approximately 95% of staff to a teleworking environment in March and April of 2020 as the Court closed its facilities to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic. Continued to provide customer service via the phones, email, mail, and online.
  • Implemented virtual dockets in April of 2020 to increase access to justice even as the Court facilities were closed to the public.
  • Installed Plexiglas barriers in all areas of the Court where face-to-face services take place (e.g., courtrooms, civil hearing rooms, juvenile assessment rooms) to protective staff and citizens with business before the court.
  • Received honorable mention for the 2020 Municipal Traffic Safety Initiatives (MTSI) award for our community outreach efforts to improve public safety by educating the public on the dangers of various traffic safety related issues.

APD 143rd Cadet Class

Austin Police

  • FY2020 Approved Budget: $438.7 million
  • Full-time Employees: 2,709

Accomplishments

  • Coordinated the training of 45 additional community therapists in the trauma focused therapeutic technique of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). These therapists provide free counseling sessions to victims/survivors of crime.
  • Uploaded significant local and regional information to the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network (NIBIN) to address gun crime. Since January, we have entered 775 cartridge cases, with 125 hits. Provided investigative lead information for cases along the IH-35 corridor, Houston, and Louisiana, including homicide and attempted capital murder cases.
  •  Employed the Crisis Call Diversion Program at the Combined Transportation and Communications Center (CTECC) as a component of 9-1-1 operations. Mental Health Crisis Counselors respond to mental health calls for service as an alternative to police response.
  • Implemented Qualtrax, a new document management system that increases efficiencies in quality assurance, record keeping/recovery, access control, training, and provides a streamlined and transparent mechanism to share forensic data with stakeholders.
  • Implemented the Mobile Field Force with officers from across the department at all ranks and assignments, beginning May 2020, to protect those who were peacefully assembled and address the behaviors of those who committed criminal acts.
  •  Worked closely with the Office of Police Oversight, Office of Performance Management, Innovation Office, and the Equity Office on key performance measure to address racial justice policy goals to address direction in Council Resolution No. 20200611-050.
  • Revised polices regarding the Use of Tear Gas, Military Equipment, No Knock Warrants, Choke Holds and Facial Recognition responsive to Council Resolution No. 20200611-095 and provided to the Public Safety Committee for their input.
  • Developed a 5-year strategic plan that will be used as a guide to establish the framework necessary to transform the Training Academy: Cultural Shift; Commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion; Academic Excellence; and Resource Development. This framework will address the direction highlighted in Council Resolution No. 20191205-066.

Awards

  • Awarded the Excellence in the Field Award, given by the American Public Works Association Texas Chapter, recognizing the City’s multi-departmental efforts in support of the Homeless Encampment Clean Up Pilot Program which tested a standardized process for cleaning encampments, especially on Watershed Protection lands (This particular award also recognized all these departments: Parks and Recreation, Austin Public Health, Austin Resource Recovery, Public Works, Watershed Protection, Communications and Technology Management’s Office of Design and Delivery, and Downtown Austin Community Court.)

Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services

Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services

  • FY2020 Approved Budget: $94.3 million
  • Full-time Employees: 704.5

Accomplishments

  • Opened joint Fire/EMS Station in Del Valle/Moore’s Crossing, the first of five stations to be built as part of Council Resolution No. 20180524-035 to build five new stations in six years. Also completed renovations to three existing EMS stations as part of the 2012 Bond Projects — Proposition 16, updating existing facilities and enhancing EMS coverage in East Austin.
  • Assembled an Infectious Disease Response Unit with the Texas Emergency Medical Task Force that provided mobile COVID-19 testing at various locations, such as nursing homes and construction sites, throughout the City of Austin and Central Texas.  
  • Established a consultation line that conducts enhanced screening for 911 callers experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and directs them to the most appropriate healthcare resource, ensuring the best outcome for the patient. 
  • Partnered with Community Care’s Street Medicine Team to provide regular opioid cessation treatment to individuals experiencing homelessness and addiction to opioids, such as heroin.
  • Stationed a Community Health Paramedic at Community First! Village to assist residents living with chronic health conditions, improving their health while reducing emergency responses to that location by 30%.

Community Court building

Downtown Austin Community Court

  • FY2020 Approved Budget: $7.6 million 
  • Full-time Employees: 31

Accomplishments

  • Maintained walk-in case management services throughout the COIVD-19 pandemic, connecting individuals experiencing homelessness to basic needs, COVID-19 safety planning, and other resources, addressing Health and Environment Strategies 1 and 2.
  • Implemented a virtual docket system to enable individuals to resolve cases safely during the pandemic.
  • Dedicated 55% of Downtown Austin Community Court employees to assist the Emergency Operations Center with the intake process, program management, and daily operations of the Protective Lodging facilities serving individuals experiencing homelessness.
  • Provided ongoing facilitation and support of the Austin Homelessness Advisory Council, including transitioning to a survey format during COVID-19 to provide continued access to lived experience expertise.

Awards

  • Awarded the Excellence in the Field Award, given by the American Public Works Association Texas Chapter, recognizing the City’s multi-departmental efforts in support of the Homeless Encampment Clean Up Pilot Program which tested a standardized process for cleaning encampments, especially on Watershed Protection lands (This particular award also recognized all these departments: Austin Police, Parks and Recreation, Austin Public Health, Austin Resource Recovery, Public Works, Watershed Protection, and Communications and Technology Management’s Office of Design and Delivery.)

Working at the EOC during the COVID-19 pandemic

Homeland Security and Emergency Management

  • FY2020 Approved Budget: $2 million 
  • Full-time Employees: 16

Accomplishments

  • Supported the City’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Every Homeland Security Emergency Management employee has worked as part of the Emergency Operations Center activation on COVID-19 starting in March 2020.
  • Provided disaster and emergency training opportunities to staff from 91% of our partner agencies.
  • Sheltered more than 4,000 people in hotels across the region who fled the Gulf Coast during mandatory evacuations due to Hurricane Laura.
  • Organized an opportunity for 75 City of Austin, Travis County, and partner agency staff including the Austin mayor, Austin city manager, and county judge to travel to Emmitsburg, Maryland to participate in disaster response training sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Administration.
Class photo from Emmitsburg
Class photo from Emmitsburg

Keyboard with lock

Information Security Office

  • FY2020 Approved Budget: $7.3 million
  • Full-time Employees: 18 

Accomplishments

  • Launched a new City department, the Information Security Office, to provide comprehensive information security, privacy, and risk management supporting the City of Austin and its portfolio of services.
  • Established Chief Privacy Office to support the City's compliance with emerging privacy laws, and to oversee the protection of citizen and resident identity when delivering City services.
  • Created centralized service to protect City websites, simplifying and reducing the cost of individualized solutions.

OPO has established community office hours in neighborhood libraries and recreational centers in every district

Office of Police Oversight

  • FY2020 Approved Budget: : $1.7 million 
  • Full-time Employees: 11 

Accomplishments

  • Processed more than 1,000 contacts — online, by phone, and by email — from community members related to the Austin Police Department's response to protesters, resulting in over 300 formal complaints recommended to Internal Affairs for investigation.
  • Published the first joint analysis of Austin Police Department traffic stop data, analyzing racial disparities, and offering actionable recommendations.
  • Hosted a meeting with community members to gather feedback regarding the analysis of Austin Police Department traffic stop data and develop recommendations for action.
  • Analyzed Austin Police Department officer-involved shootings in 2018, revealing a disparate concentration of incidents affecting individuals who are ethnic minorities, as well as historically minority-majority areas of Austin.
  • Recommended improvements to the Austin Police Department training academy curriculum, integrating a historical context to improve interactions between officers and community members.
Community Conversation Series (held after the 2018 Racial Profiling Report's release)
The Community Conversation Series held after the 2018 Racial Profiling Report was released.

Recognition

  • The Director for the Office of Police Oversight has been named Chair of a policy committee for the National Association of Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE). The OPO contacted NACOLE with the idea of a working group that will look at police policies across the country to identify a national best practice for oversight professionals.

Shady Hollow Drive flood

Watershed Protection

  • FY2020 Approved Budget: $103 million
  • Full-time Employees: 362 

Accomplishments

  • Using bonds and Drainage Utility funds, provided permanent flood relief by purchasing 46 high-risk houses from the Onion Creek floodplain and re-locating residents to homes not at risk of flooding.
  • Implemented dynamic monitoring, testing and communication plans for harmful algae blooms in Lady Bird Lake, including a dashboard to collect data and track long-term trends in water quality. No harm to animals was reported.
  • Purchased 1,100 acres of Water Quality Protection Lands using bond funding. These properties are held in perpetuity by the City to ensure clean water for Austin’s streams and aquifers. 
  • Updated delineation of critical water quality zones that protect the ecological functions of riparian areas to reflect the newly expanded floodplains resulting from the Atlas-14 rainfall study.
  • Removed 58.51 tons of debris from homeless encampments at East Anderson Lane and Cameron Road alongside other City departments and private contractors near a tributary of Little Walnut Creek.
  •  Received a $2.4 M grant from the Federal Emergency Management Administration to assist in Atlas 14 floodplain modeling efforts.
Aerial view of Onion Creek flooding
Aerial Onion Creek Flood
Debris removal from homeless encampments at East Anderson Lane and Cameron Road
Removed 58.51 tons of debris from homeless encampments at East Anderson Lane and Cameron Road

Awards

  • Awarded the Excellence in the Field Award, given by the American Public Works Association Texas Chapter, recognizing the City’s multi-departmental efforts in support of the Homeless Encampment Clean Up Pilot Program which tested a standardized process for cleaning encampments, especially on Watershed Protection lands (This particular award also recognized all these departments: Austin Police, Parks and Recreation, Austin Public Health, Austin Resource Recovery, Public Works, Communications and Technology Management’s Office of Design and Delivery, and Downtown Austin Community Court.)