published : 2023-08-22

Austin Police Chief Departs Amidst City's Struggled With Escalating Crime Rates and Shortage of Staff

Police Abolitionists' Impact Called Out, as Public Safety Continues on Downward Trend According to PAC

A close-up shot of Austin Police Department Chief Joseph Chacon in front of Austin City Hall, looking towards the horizon with a mixture of determination and melancholy, taken with Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. This image symbolizes the beginning of the article, focusing on the abrupt retirement announcement of Chief Chacon.

A sudden retirement of the Austin Police Department's Chief, Joseph Chacon, significantly impacted the city of Austin, Texas.

Staffing shortages, the absent police union contract, and persistent clashes with the city council and mayors marked his stepping down.

The chief expressed his decision as a heavy-hearted choice on a social media platform, formerly known as Twitter, following serious considerations and discussions with his family.

In the peak of his career, after serving 25 years for the Austin Police Department (APD), Chacon steps down, urging everyone to continue their efforts in keeping the city one of the safest in the country.

The city's Mayor, Kirk Watson, expressed a curt respect for Chacon's service.

Chief of Staff, Robin Henderson is lined up to succeed as the Interim Chief of Police, with Chacon to provide brief advisory support to ensure a smooth transition.

This announcement arrives while the city is still grappling with the adverse effects of staffing shortages, leading to long waiting times for 911 callers and rampant crime.

Back in 2020, the city council decided to cut substantial funds from the APD's budget.

An image of a 911 call center with empty seats symbolizing staff shortages, along with a clock on the wall displaying the long wait times experienced by residents, taken with Nikon D850. This visual brings to life the article's middle part, underscoring the impact of the police union contract absence and staffing shortages faced by the police department.

This move led to officers leaving the force in large numbers; meanwhile, the pausing of police cadet classes exacerbated the staffing issue.

The President of the Austin Police Association, Thomas Villarreal, pointed a finger towards the city council for their negligence toward local law enforcement.

He argued that it's the council's mistakes that have escalated the problems at hand.

Villarreal expressed that the council has shown negligible concern for the police officers.

In December 2017, the council rejected a police contract, a first in the history of negotiating contracts.

During the riots in the summer of 2020, following George Floyd's death, 19 officers faced indictment charges of aggravated assault over their harsh response to the protest.

District Attorney Joe Garza, backed by George Soros, was accused of running on a prosecutorial platform against the police.

The number of operating officers is currently around 1475 for a city that should ideally have close to 2000, resulting in residents having to wait longer for police assistance especially with the staff shortage at the 911 call center.

Finally, a street-level shot of Austin city at night with fleeting blue and red lights in the distant, showing the city’s struggle with rising crime rates, photographed with Sony Alpha 7R IV. This image captures the conclusion of the article, demonstrating the grave situation Austin is currently grappling with.

PAC dedicated to the quality of life in Austin, Save Austin Now, shared a statement thanking Chacon for his service and recognized the newly appointed interim police chief, Henderson.

However, the group asserted that the city is on a slippery slope with rising crime rates, poor 911 responses, and the worst police staffing crisis in its history.

They called out City Hall's unwillingness to reject police abolitionist ideals as contributing to the declining safekeeping of the public.

The co-founder of Save Austin Now, Cleo Petricek, made a strong suggestion for the state to take responsibility for the police department, as she believes the council is dominated by police abolitionists.

She also expressed her foreboding about the likely continuation of resignations at all levels and issues of recruitment.

According to Jennifer Hackney-Szimanski of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT), the city will struggle to retain an experienced Chief for long with a council who rejects contracts and a DA who suppresses non-lethal options for Law enforcement officers.