Austin American Statesman Calls Attention to Overworked Police

Cops want to serve and protect, not be all-purpose society fixers

Austin American-Statesman · 22 Sep 2016 · A9 · CHARLES A. LAUER, DRIFT WOOD

In the aftermath of this summer’s tragedy in which five law enforcement officers were killed by a sniper in downtown Dallas, Police Chief David Brown spoke the truth that every cop has known for too long. “We’re asking cops to do too much. We are. Every societal failure, we put it off on the cops to solve.”

Lock up the bad guys. Write traffic tickets. Help citizens in distress. That used to be the job description for our police. Not any more. New laws and policies written by state and local governments may look good on paper, but they just pass more and more responsibility onto our already over worked police.

Through out Texas, police officers have become a fall back solution for cities cutting back on budgets. Stray dog in a neighborhood? Let the cops handle it. Citizens with mental health issues wandering the streets? Let the cops handle it. Racial tension dividing the city? Let the cops handle it. Homeless people setting up camps? Let the cops handle it. Kids skipping school? Let the cops handle it.

This kind of unwise, knee jerk use of police force not only wastes tax dollars, it also greatly increases the response times during real life and death emergencies. Imagine calling 911 to report an armed robbery only to be told officers can’t arrive quickly because they are dealing with code enforcement issues.

Yet even with the additional responsibilities being laid on the shoulders of our officers, they are almost always the first city employees who feel the brunt of budget cuts with low pay and worsening benefits. The same goes with cuts at the Texas Department of State Health Services, which forces local police to pick up the slack.

Yet when anti-police activists shove cell phones in the face of an officer performing one of their hundreds of duties, he or she is told to suck it up and deal with it.

City governments are also greatly restricting the use of physical or intermediate force by police officers dealing with a volatile suspect, which ultimately puts their personal safety at risk. And a splitsecond decision made by an officer during a life-or-death encounter often results in in tense public, political and judicial scrutiny for years to come.

We train our officers to be the very best. They keep the peace, they monitor our streets, and they protect our homes and businesses. But now they also serve as dog catchers, counselors, and child minders — in effect becoming nothing more than armed nannies.

We have the most educated and well-trained police force in the history of the country, and they are more than qualified to be a part of the solutions to the problems that we face. They are equipped with the knowledge and training to step in and assist and work to make the city safer from the front lines.

But our officers, no matter how well-trained and qualified, can not do all the things of which they have been asked. They want to serve our community, and they want to do it by work ing along side city leaders, who unfortunately seem unwilling to make the tough decisions necessary to find real solutions to solve our social problems. So the men and women who proudly wear the badge are tasked with the repercussions.

It is time that we lis ten to Chief David Brown. His wise words should trigger serious discussion about the role of police officers in our community. Relying on law enforcement to solve every societal ill instead of fighting crime is not smart policy, and it puts families at risk. It’s time we let our police officers get back to their real job — serving and protecting the citizens of their community


Board Officers Begin New Term

July 1, 2016, is the first day of a new one year term for the elected officers of the Austin CPAAA board of directors.
The board officers are:
President: Melinda Rodriguez
1st Vice President-Communications & Law Enforcement Liaison: Susan Reed
2nd VP-Membership & CPA Liaison: Travis Wesley
3rd VP-Events & Volunteers: Esther Johnson
4th VP-Fundraising & Sponsorship: Kristina Adams
Treasurer: Cynthia Herrera
Secretary: Nivedita Sharma Arms: Ian Hoffman (also serves as webmaster)
Historian: Chris Ernst
The board advisor (appointed) is James Duncan.
This year will be a busy one for the officers and members of Austin CPAAA:  membership is increasing, the size of the CPA classes remains large, the website is being updated, volunteer opportunities are increasing, new logo shirts will be ordered, APD budget/staffing needs have increased requiring CPA advocacy, sponsorships and fundraising are needed, a business plan will be developed, and preparations for Austin’s coordination and production of the 2018 State CPA and Law Enforcement Conference will be gaining speed.

Spring 2015 ACPA Graduation Numbers High

The 82nd and 83rd Citizen Police Academy classes together were a total of 66 people!  The graduation ceremony held on May 21 at Crossroads Church drew about 150 people to witness the ceremony and hear the address by Chief Acevedo for the 35 individuals of the 82nd Class and 31 individuals of the 83rd class.  Among the attendees were the chain of command and many of the officers who made presentations to the classes over the months, including the K9 team.  The 82nd class met on Tuesday evenings and the 83rd met on Thursday evenings which was necessary to accommodate the large number of people who were accepted for the Spring 2015 session.  The classes benefited from the outstanding presentations by the officers, and, new this year: the free parking and delicious meals provided by sponsors and the department.  Also recognized for their outstanding contributions to the CPA Program were Officer Surei Scanlon, Program Coordinator, and Melinda Rodriguez, President of the Austin CPA Alumni Association.

After addresses by each class president and presentation of diplomas, the entire group enjoyed refreshments provided at the reception courtesy of the Austin Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association.  New graduates were invited to join the Association and purchase shirts to wear at events, meetings, and when participating in APD volunteer activities.

The next session of CPA classes will begin in September.  Graduates are encouraged to talk with their family, friends, and neighbors about attending the CPA class.

Chicken with the Chief Fundraiser: Successful and Fun!

April 1 at Ms. P’s Fried Chicken was our first fundraiser (this year!) and it was a big hit with everyone who was there – delicious food, a good crowd of people to visit with, plenty of time to interact with Chief Acevedo in a casual atmosphere, three great prize drawings, and our association benefited from the contributions and donations received.  We appreciate the participation of APD Chief Art Acevedo in this event and Ms. P’s Fried Chicken for serving up the great meal enjoyed by everyone.  The donated prizes were awarded to: Mag lite: Jean Whitehouse; Tickets to 100 Club Banquet: Lynn Harris; and Ride Out with Chief Acevedo: Esther Johnson.  A big ‘thank you’ to everyone who purchased tickets and came out to support APD and the ACPAAA!

Cadets Graduate on March 20

The Austin Police Department grew by 40 officers with their graduation from the Training Academy at Great Hills Baptist Church.  The reception for the graduates and their families, a crowd of 200+ proud folks, was provided by ACPAAA.  We are pleased to honor the new officers and wish them well as they join the other professional peace officers of APD.  We are grateful for these young women and men who have dedicated themselves to a life of public service and are happy to have them in Austin.

Nearly 100!!!

Yes, that’s right – there were almost 100 applications for the session of the APD Citizen Police Academy which began this month!  And over 80 people were accepted into this session.  Just a short three years ago, one CPA class had 19 people in it!  The Austin Police Department committed to holding two classes per week in order to accommodate all of the people who wanted to come and learn about APD.  This will require double work by the officers who instruct the classes and by Officer Scanlon in preparing, coordinating, and managing this large group for 14 weeks.  We appreciate their dedication and service to the CPA Program.  The 82nd class started on February 10 and the 83rd class started on February 12.  Chief Acevedo talked to attendees at both of the classes, with Chaplain Services as the topic of the presentation for the evening.

Officer Scanlon has continued to enhance the program, materials, and environment of the classes.  Participants now have free parking during their class time and classes have meals provided.  Generous donations come from a variety of restaurants and sponsors and are much appreciated by the participants.  For the 2015 class, APD provided the binders and is providing meals for about half of the class sessions.  This support for the CPA Program is vital to producing a high quality program for the people of Austin who attend the classes.

Want to donate to ACPAAA? Head over to our Donation page!

Austin Alumni Association Supports NNO 2014

SPO Scanlon and ACPAAA President Melinda Rodriguez at National Night Out 2014

SPO Scanlon and ACPAAA President Melinda Rodriguez at National Night Out 2014

At the citywide kick off event for 2014’s National Night Out celebration, the CPA Alumni Association participated as an exhibitor to provide information for the public on the Citizen Police Academy and on the services of the Alumni Association.  Our new association banner is a real eye-catcher and the table cover is perfect for displaying our free goodie bags and brochures.  The kick off event at Mueller Park featured static displays of equipment from public safety agencies in Central Texas including several from APD.  The SWAT vehicle, two robots, EMS ambulance, AFD education van, and the horses of the mounted patrol drew lots of attention from the large audience at the event.  In addition, many city departments and related vendors were on hand with exhibits and educational materials to distribute to attendees.  There was food, music, and lots of public safety officials to visit with!  National Night Out in Texas helps the public to focus on safety awareness, crime prevention, partnering with local law enforcement, and neighborhood unity by holding block parties throughout the area to bring residents together for this important civic activity.  Pictured are Officer Scanlon, CPA Coordinator, and Melinda Rodriguez, CPAAA President.