Safety Outcome: Being safe in our homes, at work, and in our community
Departments within the safety portfolio use evidence-based strategies to design and implement prevention initiatives; foster deeper relationships with diverse and vulnerable communities; build relationships regionally; 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:
- Collaboration across multiple departments resulted in creating the SD23 measure for disproportionality analysis for motor vehicles stops and resulting actions (in response to Resolution 20200611-050). The dashboard is designed to track progress toward the goal of zero disparities in traffic stops and arrests for communities of color.
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 initiatives are innovative, streamlined, and community based. Some examples include:
- Championing a holistic review and realignment of public safety service delivery with the ReimaginingPublic Safety Initiative (RPS). The RPS framework set a new benchmark for prioritizing equity and centering a diverse range of community voices in key policy and program development processes with transparent multi-platform, multi-lingual outreach and interactive public facing dashboards to track the impact of feedback and progress toward implementing community recommendations. Austin received the Bloomberg Cities that Work gold certification for the RPS initiative as well as a Government Experience award from the Center for Digital Government.
- Launching the nation’s first fully integrated 9-1-1 emergency mental health triage and community response program.
- The Office of Police Oversight launched a series of conversations to gather community feedback on the rewrite of APD's use-of-force policies and published recommendations for improvement based on the input shared by a diverse group of Austinites and national best practices in policing.
- The Austin Police Department, in an effort to increase transparency and community trust, implemented a new 10-day critical incident video release policy which releases body-worn camera video and dash cam footage with 10 business days of a critical incident, such as an officer-involved shooting, as opposed to a 60-day release policy.
- The Downtown Austin Community Court (DACC) worked to ensure individuals charged with offenses relating to City and State camping ban legislation are connected to services. DACC also provided continuous services to those experiencing homelessness throughout the pandemic including walk-in and housing-focused case management.
Success of emergency response and emergency prevention, preparedness, and recovery were also significant drivers as City departments mobilized to respond to the unprecedented impact of Winter Storm Uri while simultaneously supporting the on-going COVID-19 pandemic response, maintaining regular public safety operations, and launching innovative alternative response programs to meet community needs.
- While still supporting the Austin/Travis County COVID Response, the Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) staff coordinated the City’s 24/7 Winter Storm Uri Response. HSEM provided shelter to more than 1,000 people and distributed 170,000 shelf-stable meals and five million bottles of water to the public. As part of continued COVID-19 pandemic response HSEM established important alternate care and treatment sites that served more than 1,100 people.
- Austin Fire Department (AFD) Communications handled more than 14,000 calls for emergency services for AFD and Travis County Fire Rescue during Winter Storm Uri at an average of 555 calls per day. AFD also provided more than 7,000 COVID-19 vaccinations to first responders, City and County workers and teachers, as well as federal and homeland security workers across Central Texas.
- Austin Code Department (ACD) addressed nearly 800 storm-related code complaints and developed a Winter Storm Uri Dashboard which includes geographical maps and updated filters to sort cases by City Council district. Code inspectors also assisted with emergency water distribution and needs identification.
- Austin Police Department, Austin-Travis County EMS, and community partner Integral Care launched the Austin CARES program, which provides an alternative response to behavioral health emergency calls, to help achieve a goal of safely diverting 100% of 9-1-1 mental health emergency calls that do not pose a risk to public safety from a law enforcement response into other appropriate care.
Browse each department's accomplishments:
- Mobilized to address nearly 800 Winter Storm Uri-related code complaints, collaborating with City partners to help the community recover from the devastating impacts. Code Inspectors provided critical assistance with emergency water distribution, needs identification, and mitigation efforts. In addition, ACD staff developed the Winter Storm Uri dashboard which includes geographical maps and updated filters to sort cases by City Council district. To accompany this tool, a Winter Storm Uri database tutorial was created to help the community learn to navigate the dashboard. ACD is continuing work on the 48 storm-related cases that remain active.
- Investigated 27,870 code complaint cases and escalated more than 158 confirmed code violations cases to quasi-judicial enforcement proceedings for failure to reach timely compliance. Utilizing Code’s Tiered Enforcement Response Matrix (CTERM) priority system, Code Inspectors were successful in efficiently meeting our customers’ needs, as shown in the table below.
- Strengthened community relations and heightened public awareness and understanding of local code requirements. ACD participated in more than 80 community and stakeholder meetings and surpassed its Code Connect goal of answering 6,500 customer calls.
- Collaborated with City partners to present the International Code Council’s (ICC) 2021 International Property Maintenance Code (IPMC) for City Council adoption, updating the 2015 version. The update includes an amendment that is requiring property owners to submit an action plan for repairs to the City whenever unsafe or hazardous conditions are found on a property. IPMC revisions are necessary to ensure public safety and maintain consistency with other City codes. This work involved a stakeholder engagement process with community partners Austin Women in Housing, Austin Apartment Association, Austin Board of Realtors, and Building and Strengthening Tenant Action (BASTA), which was instrumental in reinforcing constructive relationships with our stakeholders.
a new Fire and Electronic Health Record, Records Management System (RMS). Modern
technology enables compliance with a new National Emergency Medical
Services Information System (NEMSIS)
data standard and automated National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS)
compliant reporting. Mobile devices used on-scene improve patient care
continuity between Austin Fire and ATCEMS. A Business Intelligence data
warehouse builds on the enriched data structure and paints a more complete
picture of incident response and patient care.
- Supported local and national deployments for severe weather. Provided personnel for five local, regional, state, and national incidents. Provided resources for incident management for an all-hazards response for Hurricane Ida. During Winter Storm Uri, AFD Communications processed 14,587 calls for emergency services for AFD and Travis County Fire Rescue from February 12 – 21, 2021. During the 10 days in February, staff processed an average of 555 calls per day compared with the daily average of approximately 300 emergency calls the rest of that month.
- Provided more than 7,000 COVID-19 vaccinations to first responders, City and County
workers, teachers, as well as federal and homeland security workers across
Central Texas through the Public Safety Wellness Center. Also provided
case management for 1,510 City of Austin public safety employees infected
with COVID-19 (January – September 2021).
Fire Station 51, providing a unit in Travis County/southwest Austin to
improve response times in an area of the city which has been historically
challenging in achieving those goals. Fire Station 51 is the second of five fire stations in Council’s Resolution No. 20180524-035 to build five new fire
stations in six years.
engaged more than 6,000 individuals as part of our
recruiting efforts in completing Candidate Interest Cards (CICs) when in-person recruiting
events were not available for most of the year; 72% of all CICs came from
diversity target demographics.
- Reopened the main location of the Municipal Court to the public on April 5 which required significant collaboration and work across all units of the court and multiple stakeholder groups. Court staff provided in-person customer service to residents and utilized a hybrid docket structure using a combination of in-person and virtual dockets.
- Provided a safe and secure workplace by redefining and refining security procedures and structure of security resources. This included adherence to established Covid-19 safety protocols, reestablishing the court security committee mandated by Section 29.014 of the Government Code, reinstallation and testing of critical incident system (cameras, alarms, notifications), updates to the court emergency action plan, and transitioning to a new private security vendor realigning responsibilities and duties.
- Continued focus on development of new case management system that will provide an efficient and effective tool to support the fair administration of justice.
- Worked with management team to renew the initial stages of the formal strategic planning process delayed during the pandemic. This included: creating a strategic plan development schedule; revising analyses on strengths, opportunities, weaknesses, and threats; and preparing alignment of performance reviews (SSPR) with SD23 goals.
- Received 2021 Municipal Traffic Safety Initiatives (MTSI) award for our virtual community outreach efforts to improve public safety by educating the public on the dangers of various traffic safety-related issues.
- Developed a five-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.
- Launched a pilot of the reimagined Training Academy with the 144th Cadet class, the most diverse in academy history, in June 2021. Revised training emphasizes servant leadership and prioritizes building stronger community relationships with two additional weeks of engagement activities as part of the Community Connect program.
- 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. Provided investigative lead information for cases along the IH-35 corridor, Houston, and Louisiana, including homicide and attempted capital murder cases.
- Implemented 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 Qualtrics, 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.
- Implemented a new 10-day critical incident video release policy which releases body-worn camera video and dash cam footage with 10 business days of a critical incident, such as an officer-involved shooting, as opposed to 60-day release policy.
- Began a Mental Health Response program in which Community Health Paramedic assisted over 360 individuals in mental health crisis. Prevented 289 imminent and unnecessary ER transports through more effective solutions.
- Implemented a program to bring immediate and daily treatment for opiate withdrawal to patients. Treated more than 90 patients who would otherwise have used opiates and risked overdose and death.
- Reduced the use of 911-EMS by High Utilizer patients by over 70%, while improving their quality of life and health, through Case Management by Community Health Paramedics.
- Developed an online platform to teach virtual Safe Baby Academy classes for families and parents seeking educational alternatives to in-person classes. Provided online education for child passenger safety, safe sleep, home safety, water safety, infant CPR and choking awareness with a 100% attendance rate.
- Updated and implemented the new ATCEMS Discount Program to assist the uninsured or underinsured who have received emergency ambulance services.
- Provided continuous homeless services throughout the pandemic including walk-in and housing-focused case management for people experiencing homelessness and individuals at Protective Lodging Facilities to prevent their return to homelessness.
- Relocated operations to an interim facility, providing an improved environment for individuals served and employees, and ensuring uninterrupted provision of homeless services while a permanent facility is secured.
- Expanded the Violet KeepSafe Storage Program to improve access for individuals experiencing homelessness to store personal items, and increased the number of employment opportunities for individuals with lived experience.
- Adjudicating citywide offenses related to Proposition B and the State camping ban to ensure individuals are connected to services, aligning with the Safety Indicator for Fair Administration of Justice.
- Participated in the community engagement phase of APD cadet training through work on beautification and public space improvement projects, building on a longstanding partnership between APD and DACC.
- Provided the structure for the City’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic including establishing an alternate care site for COVID-19 patients at the Austin Convention Center that cared for 215 patients as well as a Regional Infusion Center that provided monoclonal antibody treatments to 1,076 COVID-19 positive individuals. HSEM also continued support of the COVID-19 isolation facility and protective lodges that offered a safe place to more than 2,800 people.
- Coordinated response to February 2021 Winter Storm Uri. Distributed more than 170,000 shelf-stable meals and five million bottles of water to the public and provided shelter to more than 1,000 people during the storm. Additionally, coordinated a comprehensive after-action review of the storm response to assess strengths and weaknesses and identify opportunities to reinforce the City’s emergency response capabilities.
- Provided disaster and emergency training opportunities to staff from 92% of partner agencies.
- Expanded citywide security operations and incident response services to detect and respond to cybersecurity threats more effectively.
- Developed citywide information security and privacy program goals, objectives, and expected outcomes.
- Established Paramedic Practitioner and EMS Physician Program to provide telehealth and in-person clinical services to individuals who do not require EMS transport to an Emergency Room for treatment.
- Provided Physician and Paramedic Practitioner in-person and telehealth care to patients during Winter Storm Uri, including care to dozens of individuals who could not access dialysis centers.
- During Winter Storm Uri, the OCMO Physician Assistant and multiple EMS Physicians responded to emergencies throughout the city and county in an effort to reduce the call burden on ambulances and the impact on emergency rooms by effectively dispositioning patients at home. These clinicians provided a multitude of services including providing critical medications to individuals who were unable to have dialysis in a timely fashion.
- Provided support of the ongoing COVID-19 response, including vaccinations, testing, and policy development in coordination with Public Safety Departments.
- Hosted a town hall for people with disabilities to share their stories about interactions with law enforcement and developed recommendations for APD to improve interactions with this community.
- Launched an event series to facilitate community feedback on the rewrite of APD's use-of-force policies. Published recommendations for improvement based on national best practices in policing and community feedback.
- Released the inaugural annual report summarizing the work and accomplishments from 2019-2020, including OPO’s work in policy, community engagement, and complaints.
- Supported the Community Police Review Commission’s mission with administrative support, including hosting the Town Hall on 8 Can't Wait Policy Recommendations.
- Presented OPO policy work at the annual conference of the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement in a panel on proactive compliance.
- Constructed or repaired seven stormwater quality facilities, including Village of Western Oaks and Waterloo Park; repaired and restored almost one mile of eroding streams, including Bitter Creek and Waterloo Park.
- Reinvented the hands-on environmental education programs to an innovative live virtual format due to COVID-19 safety protocols and educated 2,510 fifth grade students during the 2020-2021 school year.
- Cleaned and maintained 39,308 linear feet of storm drain system, removing 258 tons of sediment, trash and debris, as well as over 6,000 tons from Waller Creek Tunnel Facilities.
- Protected streams by recovering 6.2 million gallons of pollutants during spill response activities. Implemented a training and preparedness drill simulating crude oil release into Lady Bird Lake.
- Responded to Winter Storm Uri with 154 employees working 11,190 hours to clear roads and distribution centers, transport aid to communities and supported efforts to repair failed water lines.
- The Watershed Protection Department’s green stormwater infrastructure project at Austin ISD’s Reilly Elementary school’s campus won First Place in the National Association of Flood & Stormwater Management Agencies (NAFSMA) Green Infrastructure Awards.