Interim City Manager developed plan following Council directive
AUSTIN, Texas—On March 2 the City of Austin announced details of its plan to pay, provide benefits and implement a retention strategy for officers of the Austin Police Department. This is the result of an ordinance Austin City Council unanimously passed on February 23 that directed Interim City Manager Jesús Garza to develop such a plan.
“This is a good day for our City and for the women and men of the Austin Police Department,” Mayor Kirk Watson said. “We are delivering on our promises, and just one week after a Council directive, the Interim City Manager has presented us with a substantial pathway to financially supporting the officers who serve this community.
“This is how I expect our government to work, and I am encouraged by how effectively, and in short order, we are making progress for the people of Austin. There is still much to accomplish, but this is a significant step as we work to solve big problems with real solutions. I want to thank all members of this Council, the Interim City Manager, Chief Chacon and the staff who made this possible.”
The plan, which is summarized here, includes the following tenets:
- A 4% increase in pay for all officers under the rank of assistant chief, effective April 1, 2023
- Up to a $15,000 incentive for new cadets
- Retention incentives for current officers, including a pay increase for officers nearing retirement, which may help alleviate the current concern for officers considering retirement
Additional provisions within the plan include continuation of longevity pay, field training officer pay, mental health certification pay, bilingual pay, shift differential pay, assistant chief pay, among others.
“This plan demonstrates the commitment this City has to keeping its word and supporting our officers,” Joseph Chacon, Chief of the Austin Police Department, said. “APD officers keep this community safe, and they deserve to be compensated well for doing so; this plan is an important part of ensuring officers feel valued by the people they serve.”
The ordinance was originally introduced by Council Member Ryan Alter (District 5), which was approved as a substitute offered by Mayor Watson. Those joining as co-sponsors were Council Member Alison Alter (District 10), Council Member José Velásquez (District 3), Council Member José “Chito” Vela (District 4) and Council Member Leslie Pool (District 7).
“This compensation plan is a result of the process working to make Austin safer for its residents. When the Mayor called for increasing pay for our officers so that we can recruit and retain more police officers, the Council took action to let the professional staff determine how to best achieve that result,” Austin City Council Member Ryan Alter, District 5, said. “Keeping our public safe is a core responsibility that this Council takes to heart. I look forward to making progress on the other provisions in the ordinance and believe that, as we do, it will instill confidence across this city that they can trust in their elected officials and City leadership.”
Mayor Watson and Council Member Ryan Alter also acknowledged contributions to the ordinance from Council Member Mackenzie Kelly (District 6), who wanted to find ways to incentivize officers living in the city, and Zohaib “Zo” Qadri (District 9), who also added to the ordinance.