Austin's new district attorney has also implemented a policy allowing for police officers suspected of engaging in misconduct to be reinvestigated even for cases that have already been closed. This is expected to drive even more of them to quit.
In January 2021, sources reportedly told PJ Media that 20 officers retired from the Austin Police Department (APD), while another eight resigned.
One month later in February, another five officers resigned while six retired. Then again in March, 24 more officers left the force and a whopping 20 retired. Three additional officers resigned and one was terminated that same month.
"To put this into perspective, 2019 was the last non-pandemic year and the year before the city council cut APD's budget," writes Bryan Preston for PJ Media.
"APD averages about 50 retirements or separations in a calendar year, and replaces them with cadets who have graduated from the police academy or officers who join APD from another force."
In the entirety of 2019, 46 officers retired from APD and another 22 resigned. The year 2020 saw a dramatic increase after the George Floyd riots, prompting 78 officers to depart or retire after they began, bringing the total that year to 89 separations.
This mass exodus is being attributed by conservatives to the nationwide police defunding efforts that seek to reapportion some monies from police departments to other rehabilitation programs for low-level offenders that aim to help them rather than just incarcerate them.
Just in the first quarter of 2021, a whopping 63 officers left APD in response to these changes. By the end of the year, that number could balloon to around 252 officers, which is roughly five times the average number of separations in a year.
"This will impact public safety across the board, and according to the APRS, can impact retirees' benefits as well," warns Preston.
"March 2021's retirements hit all over the department, including tactical intelligence, gang crimes, narcotics enforcement, investigations, and the bomb squad," he adds.
One good thing that has come from all the departures is that revenue-generating tactics like speed traps are on the decline. Both warnings and citations for traffic enforcement plummeted by more than 60 percent just in the first two months of 2021.
APD, however, is bemoaning the changes as being "anti-police," even though the department is still being funded, just at a lesser rate.
"In Austin, Tex., the city council has fallen under the influence of hard-line anti-police activists," contends Charley Wilkison, executive director of Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT). "They don't reflect the mainstream in Austin but they have been very loud."
Wilkison further says these activists have "disrupted" the way APD is used to doing business, which upsets him and others who say the local city council "cratered" to protesters rather than siding with the police.
Preston points to increased homicides in 2020 versus 2019 as proof that defunding APD was a mistake. However, APD had not yet been defunded at that time, and those increases in deaths probably had more to do with the Wuhan coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdowns and George Floyd mayhem than anything else.
APD chiefs say they will be meeting soon to figure out which units will need to be cut further to shore up patrols under the new budgeting guidelines.
More related news about how police reforms are impacting law enforcement can be found at PoliceState.news.
Sources for this article include: