Equity Office Accepting Community Grant Applications
The Equity Office is accepting applications from the community for the Reimagining Public Safety Grant Fund. These grants will provide flexible resources for local, community-based organizations to support community engagement projects focused on the reimagining of public safety in Austin.
Funds for these grants are a part of the Austin Police Department (APD) budget re-alignment and will support projects aligned with advancing one or more concepts from the framework created by the Reimagining Public Safety Leadership team. The input obtained through this grant will inform the recently created City-Community Reimagining Task Force, which includes community organization representatives, on addressing questions such as “What is a ‘reimagined’ public safety system in Austin and how do we get there?”
Awards up to $20,000 will be considered, with a program cap of $200,000. Applications are due November 6, and awards will be announced November 23. For more information on supported activities, eligibility requirements, evaluation criteria, and to apply, visit the grant dashboard.
City-Community Reimagining Public Safety Task Force Update
The task force held its first virtual public meeting on October 20. During the meeting the task force voted in co-chairs. The co-chairs are Paula Rojas and Brion Oaks. Farah Muscadin will serve as the third co-chair. A task force working group presented a timeline* with an overview of the origins of policing and its impact on communities of color to present day. The presentation centers the question: “What does public safety mean and who is—and has been historically--safe or unsafe in our communities.”
The next task force meeting will be at 6 p.m. on November 5. Details on how to attend the virtual meeting will be posted on the task force webpage, along with the full list of task force members, agendas, and meeting summaries.
*Click on the fit to page icon in your browser for a full-screen view of the history of policing timeline.
Mental Health Diversion Update
Assistant City Manager for Public Safety, Rey Arellano, provided an update on the implementation of the Mental Health Diversion Program in an October 21 memo to Mayor and Council. Last year Council approved funding for improved mental health first response systems.
The memo outlined how Austin Police Department (APD) collaborated extensively with Integral Care and Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services (ATCEMS) to work toward achieving service improvement goals including:
- Better match a mental health crisis call with an appropriate mental health response.
- Improve triage at the 911 Call Center to direct mental health calls more appropriately to Integral Care’s Expanded Mobile Crisis Outreach Team (EMCOT) or the Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services Department (ATCEMS), and fewer to APD.
- Get mental health clinicians on scene in response to mental health crisis calls to 911, particularly during the hours identified as the times of highest need.
Work on mental health call process improvements and implementation of program recommendations, outlined in a report commissioned Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute for Texas (MMHPI), will advance with funding Council approved in the current budget which also includes:
- $1.4 million towards expanding and enhancing the Integral Care EMCOT contract for clinical staff and telehealth services
- $1.1 million to expand the mental health diversion initiative within the Community Health Paramedic Program by adding seven new positions and necessary equipment.
Austin Police Department Graduates New Officers
APD graduated 42 new officers during a ceremony on Friday, October 23. The 143rd graduating cadets, who were commissioned during the ceremony, successfully completed a demanding 32-week training program. The training that the cadet class received included legal issues, driving, crisis intervention training, community policing, leadership, defensive tactics, and physical fitness. Chief Brian Manley administered the Oath of Office to the cadets.
Quattrone Report Outlines Recommendations for Improving Future DNA Lab Operations
The Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice, University of Pennsylvania has completed a look back/look forward review of APD DNA lab. The review’s findings identifies 57 contributing factors to the DNA Lab’s failures and outlines 87 recommendations to address those issues and ensure the high quality operation of any future DNA lab facility with an emphasis on independence, accuracy, reliability, transparency, efficiency. Read the report and learn more about the background of the APD DNA lab.
Reimagining Public Safety Community Engagement Continues
More than 75 local organizations, including churches, advocacy groups, educational institutions, business organizations and neighborhood groups have been invited to host Reimagining Public Safety community conversations. Participating organizations will receive conversation kits that contained the tools and resources to host a session including materials translated into multiple languages. Interpretation and facilitation support is also available to host organizations upon request. The community partner-hosted sessions will be available on a rolling basis until the end of January 2021. Organizations can sign up to host a session here.
Facilitated Community Conversations have been completed in Council districts 2, 5, 6 and 7. Dozens of residents have provided thoughtful input on how the City might reimagine its delivery of public safety services. Additional scheduled sessions are:
- District 9: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, November 10
- District 8: 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, November 18
Dates for a City-wide session and for districts 1, 3, 4, and 10 are pending. Additional public feedback opportunities include:
- Listening Session for One in-depth self-survey.
- A reimagining short survey and idea forum on SpeakUp Austin.
- A call-in survey now available on 3-1-1.
The latest details on all of the engagement opportunities can be found on the Share Input page, where visitors can also sign-up for the monthly newsletter.
A Spanish version of the website is set to launch on November 6.
View more updates on each reform's page, under "Status"