Austin City-Community Reimagining Public Safety Task Force 2021 Mid-Year Recommendations Report

The City of Austin has made numerous reforms to public safety over the years, including conducting an investigation of systemic discrimination and bias within APD and establishing the
Office of Police Oversight.
The April 24, 2020 death of Mr. Michael Ramos during an interaction with APD officers amplified calls to end disparities in how communities of color are treated when they interact with
officers. Those calls became part of a moment of national racial reckoning with the May 25,
2020 death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.
In August 2020, after hours of community testimony, the City Council passed a historic budget
to redefine public safety. The City of Austin is committed to implementing policy and cultural changes to address the disproportionate impact of police violence on people of color and
other affected communities.
Council approved an APD budget of approximately $290 million which reflects a budget
change of $153.2 million. The adopted budget directs that $153.2 million in police funding to
be reallocated in the following ways:
• Reduce & Reinvest APD funding by approximately $31.5 million – taken primarily
from cadet classes and overtime – to reinvest in permanent supportive housing and
services, EMS for COVID-19 response, family violence shelter and protection, violence
prevention, workforce development, and a range of other programs.
• Transfer a number of APD functions (and related funding of approximately $76.6
million) out of APD over the course of the fiscal year. These include Forensics Sciences,
Communications/911 call center, strategic support, and internal affairs.
• Create a Reimagine Safety Fund to potentially divert approximately $45.1 million from
APD toward alternative forms of public safety and community support as determined
through the year-long reimagining process.
Council also directed the City Manager to return to Council during the mid-point of the 2021
fiscal year to amend the public safety budget following public engagement on the Reimagining
Public Safety (RPS) Process.
In response to these Council actions, the City Manager charged his Executive Leadership Team
with creating a City-Community Reimagining Public Safety (RPS) Task Force to consider new
ways to help and support the community in times of crisis.
This report delivers the mid-year recommendations and body of work completed thus far by
the RPS Task Force.
A Message from the RPS Task Force Chairs
This is a historic moment, at least in our lifetime, that
nationally and locally there has been a strong call for
an uprising to completely rethink policing and reimagine public safety as we know it in this nation.
It is a time that cities all across the country are seriously considering defunding policing and investing in
alternative solutions for public safety. This moment in
time is a reflection of many years of community work
here locally and around the nation to critically examine the role of policing in our lives and our ability to be
safe. As a result of these uprisings, the City of Austin
has convened this task force which is a community-city
joint task force to reimagine public safety.
We hosted our first task force meeting on August 24,
2020 and we have convened monthly to move this critical work forward. We decided early on to make all of
our meetings public and to provide interpretation into
Spanish or other languages as requested. This is part of
the effort to truly make this an accessible conversation
to people at home.
We began our process by looking at the history of policing before we developed any recommendations. A working
group of task force members created a timeline looking at
the history of policing, starting with colonization and enslavement and ending in 2020 in Austin locally.
From our timeline, we then developed values to guide our work as well as guidelines for our
governance and decision making. Our values were developed collectively and serve as a guiding compass to together reimagine public safety.
We are now at a proud place to share the final proposals to reimagine public safety from our
task force working groups. We submit these recommendations in response to the Council
Hear Our Voice
Artwork by Hallie Jay Pope
Sourced from Amplifier Art
direction for the City Manager to return to Council during the mid-point of the 2021 fiscal year
to amend the public safety budget following public engagement on the Reimagining Public
Safety Process. You will find the task force final recommendations in the last section of this
As Co-Chairs we would like to thank all of the task force members who dedicated many hours
of listening, expertise, and struggling together to develop this body of work. We also honor
and recognize the work of many community members that were not on the task force but
contributed hundreds of hours volunteering to help us think collectively and more practically
speaking how to reimagine public safety, not just policing.
Paula X. Rojas Brion Oaks
Communities of Color United (CCU) City of Austin, Equity Office
Ta s k F o rc e C o m m u n i t y M e m b e r s
• Quincy Dunlap – Austin Area Urban League
• Hailey Easley – Austin Asian Community Health Initiative
• Jessica Johnson – Texas Fair Defense Project
• Monica Guzmán – Go! Austin/Vamos! Austin (GAVA)
• Priscilla Hale – allgo
• Dawn Handley – Integral Care
• Chris Harris – Texas Appleseed
• David Johnson – Grassroots Leadership
• Amanda Lewis – Survivor Justice Project
• Nelson Linder – National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
• Kathy Mitchell – Just Liberty
• Chas Moore – Austin Justice Coalition
• Cary Roberts – Greater Austin Crime Commission
• Paula X. Rojas – Communities of Color United (CCU)
• Matt Simpson – American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
• Alicia Torres – ICE Fuera de Austin
• Cate Graziani – Texas Harm Reduction Alliance
Task Force City of Austin Members
• Nuria Rivera-Vandermyde – Deputy City Manager
• Rey Arellano – Assistant City Manager
• Shannon Jones – Interim Assistant City Manager
• Farah Muscadin – Director, Office of Police Oversight
• Brion Oaks – Chief Equity Officer, Equity Office
Centering Those Most Directly Harmed by Systems
The Meaningful Community Engagement Work Group of the RPS Task Force has led the efforts to ensure across the body of work and recommendations of the task force that those
most directly harmed stand in the center of the engagement and design of our recommendations. Throughout this process many of our workgroups have leveraged strategies and
opportunities to engage those most directly impacted in the development of their recommendations. The RPS Task Force efforts to center those most directly harmed culminated in a citywide listening session on April 10, 2021 with
interpretation services in ASL, Arabic, Burmese, Mandarin, Korean, Urdu, Spanish, and
Vietnamese. Over 150 community members
joined the listening session to share their experiences with public safety in our city as well
as their ideas on how we can reimagine public safety. The task force accepted in-person,
written, audio, and video testimony. More
than 1,200 people watched the conversation
on Facebook. The following is a snapshot of
what we heard:
1. Divert funds from APD to community services such as:
• Health care
• More clinics for substance abuse and
• COVID-19 care
• Mental health services
• Affordable and accessible housing
• Ending food insecurity
• Financial assistance to victims and families of victims of police brutality & ICE
• Financial assistance to families hit by the pandemic and the recent winter storm
2. Recurring stories from community members being
profiled, harassed, bullied, and falsely accused by the police because of their race, gender,
language barriers, and citizenship status; Stories of family members who have been killed
by the APD
3. Youth participants spoke on being targeted by the police and subjected to the school to
prison pipeline
We Are American
Artwork by Celeste Byers
Sourced from Amplifier Art
Centering Those Most Directly Harmed by Systems (cont.)
4. A need for 9-1-1 call-takers to speak multiple languages for appropriate police response
5. Stories of APD collaborating with ICE to deport undocumented/immigrant Austin residents
6. More housing, mental health counseling, and jobs for folks experiencing homelessness
7. Lack of trust in police because of police intimidation and police brutality towards communities of color
8. Abstaining from calling the police because situation is worsened or ignored by police
9. Healthcare functioning as a pipeline for the police to criminalize people seeking care
10.Non-crime related matters should be relegated to non-police trained professionals such
• Mental health crises
• People experiencing homelessness
• Traffic violations
• Noise complaints
R P S Ta s k F o rc e Wo r k G ro u p D e s c r i p t i o n s
& Recommendations
The following is the summation of recommendations developed by the eight working groups
of the RPS Task Force1. These recommendations were voted on and formally adopted by the
members on April 15, 2021. These recommendations reflect the guiding values of the task
force, rooted in divesting from systems that cause harm to investing in holistic approaches
to community safety. It is our desire for these recommendations to embody our commitment to put forth sustainable and long term solutions, a reflection of collaboration with the
community and positioned to advance racial equity.
1 To avoid any potential conflict of interest in recommendations that directly impact departments referenced
in the work group recommendations, City staff abstained from voting on the recommendations.
Hear Our Voice
Artwork by Cristyn Hypnar
Sourced from Amplifier Art
E q u i t y R e i n v e s t m e n t i n C o m m u n i t y W o r k i n g
G r o u p
Goal: Identify and create upstream mechanisms that prevent the need for policing and invest in
impacted communities to address long standing inequities.
Contact: Paula X. Rojas,
Working Group Members:
Paula X. Rojas, RPS task force member
Monica Guzmán, RPS task force member; email: moni-
Marisa Perales; email:
Andrea Black; email:
Elias Cortez; email:
Raul Alvarez; email:
Nyeka Arnold; email:
Amy Madore; email:
Rocío Villalobos; email: Rocío.Villalobos@austintexas.
Jasmin Patel; email:
Ricardo Garay; email:
Background & Context
“Criminality” and violence stem from systemic failures to support community wellbeing in a
universal and nondiscriminatory way. We recognize that violence occurs not only interpersonally but also from structural neglect and oppression, as we have all observed during the global
pandemic, the recent winter storm, and regularly in the City’s lack of low-cost housing, adequate
intervention to protect flood prone property, and response to loss of wages. We call for the City
to halt investment in the violent and oppressive practices of policing and to pivot those dedicated resources to reimagined services designed to meet the needs of our communities.
By grounding ourselves in the history of policing in the US and in Austin, we can better understand the historical role of law enforcement as a mechanism to protect property and wealth
through the use of violence. The US became the wealthiest country in the world via intentional
policies and practices of exploitation and genocide. The current racial wealth divide (see “The
Economic Impact of Closing the Racial Wealth Gap,” 2019, McKinsey & Co.) in our country is not
by accident. The system of racial capitalism has cemented a racial hierarchy in all markers of
life, including health, income and wealth, with white communities at the top, Black communities
at the bottom, and other communities of color in between. Today in Austin, Black and Brown
Build Communities
Artwork by Josh MacPhee
Sourced from Amplifier Art
communities have the highest rates of poverty, unemployment and housing insecurity. Related
historical practices such as redlining and housing discrimination have resulted in geographic
concentrations of poverty that are disproportionately communities of color in Austin. Our recommendations focus on these geographic communities.
The Community Equity Reinvestment Working Group of the Reimagining Public Safety Task Force
makes the following recommendations to the Austin City Council and Quality of Life Commissions for divestment from policing and investment in community wellbeing, stability, growth and
There is both a need for immediate, direct economic support for Austin residents who have
been made the most vulnerable and are facing critical needs as well as long-term and sustainable investment in community equity. We recommend the following actions:
1. The City invest at least $11 million from the current fiscal year budget to be used
to address the needs of 10 neighborhoods that have high concentrations of poverty,
high unemployment, limited access to health insurance, high concentrations of COVID
cases and/or a high level of need for basic-needs assistance based on calls to 2-1-1. See:
2. The City invest $44.8 million annually starting in FY 2021-22 to support long-term
and sustainable investment in community equity.
a. The City will develop strategically located neighborhood “hubs” managed by
local grassroots organizations and administered by the City’s Equity Office in
collaboration with Austin Public Health to:
i. Oversee the implementation and distribution of a guaranteed income pilot
program for residents in the hubs’ jurisdiction in the form of direct recurring cash payments. Total $12 million annually.
ii. Direct new and existing city resources to the neighborhood hubs to distribute in accordance with short-term priorities established via a community-driven process that includes meaningful involvement by residents.
iii. With a commitment from the City to invest an additional $6.5 million annually per hub (total $32.5 million), work with residents to identify longer-term
needs for their communities and prioritize how funds are spent.
Use of Funds from Current-Year Budget
The city must work with local community members to identify the communities that would benefit most from immediate community equity investment and that have a history of experiencing
structural violence. The data are very clear. There are a number of Austin neighborhoods that
are suffering simultaneously from over-policing and under-investment. We recommend the following datasets be used to identify and prioritize the neighborhood areas that have the greatest
number of cross-sector challenges be prioritized:
• Over policing, concentrated surveillance, and patrol data
• Calls to 211 by Zip Code & Call Type:;
• Unemployment and underemployment rates
• Poverty and low-income neighborhoods
• Focus Areas Identified in the Central Health 2020 Demographics Report: which
includes data on asthma, behavioral health, COPD, diabetes, heart failure, and hypertension; insurance coverage (MAP/Medicaid/uninsured) and transportation
• Housing insecurity: areas, such as those identified in the Uprooted Report, that are vulnerable to gentrification and displacement
• Areas vulnerable to flooding
• Areas lacking tree canopy coverage
• Neighborhoods near brownfields, landfills, recycling, and wastewater treatment facilities
• Food insecurity: areas that lack access to fresh foods or grocery stores, referenced in recent TX Appleseed reports
• Predatory lender locations (Payday)
• COVID- looking at data re new cases, mortality rates, testing site availability, and vaccine
The City via the Equity Office will set aside $100,000 each for 10 neighborhood areas that have
seen the greatest health and economic impacts from the pandemic. The City, through the Equity
Office, must engage community partners (organizations) already engaged with and centering
residents, to identify and distribute to residents in need. The City will use the remaining $10 million (of a total of $11 million from current fiscal year funds) to provide rent assistance to prevent
evictions and direct assistance for basic needs to residents of those neighborhoods (including
direct cash assistance, assistance for rent, utilities, food, medication, and health care, and assistance for other delayed costs such as DACA and naturalization fees). Community partners will
identify community members needing assistance, and program funds will be used to address
the needs of individuals identified by community partners for assistance. Community partners
will use this outreach as an opportunity to identify individuals who might serve on advisory
councils for neighborhood hubs.
The work done between now and the end of the fiscal year will inform and facilitate the selection
of 5 or more neighborhood hubs that will operate on an on-going basis starting in FY 2021-22.
Annual Investment of Funds to Support Neighborhood Hubs
Once at least five neighborhood hub sites have been selected, the City Equity Office will designate panels of community members that will select partner organizations to manage and lead
the organization of each hub. Screening should be stringent; the panel should demonstrate that
selected organizations have an established history of direct community engagement and outreach with directly impacted communities, especially non-white communities, marginalized and
underserved populations, and other survivors of structural violence. Priority should go to grassroots organizations that demonstrate direct relational practice with the communities they serve.
If there are no willing or existing organizations, the City should explore establishing paid resident
councils composed of directly impacted communities and seek similar organizations that would
be willing to house the hub resources and infrastructure.
Once these locations and organizations are identified, the hubs will serve as both drop-in centers for easy and multilingual access to resources for residents as well as bases for funded outreach efforts to reach residents at their doorstep in order to meet needs and bridge the gap left
by poor accessibility and navigation. There are currently city-run Neighborhood Centers in some
of these communities, but they are not meeting the needs of community members and many
residents do not feel safe accessing them. These neighborhood hubs will be created and staffed
by the neighborhoods, and local community members will determine and prioritize both the
needs in their community that the hubs should address and what resources are needed. These
hubs can also serve as the “resilience hubs” that City Council Member Kathie Tovo has recommended and should receive support for both emergency and ongoing community needs.
We recommend the addition of two staff members to the city’s Equity Office: a Financial Manager and Program Manager, both dedicated to the implementation of the neighborhood hubs. In
addition to the supportive program funds partner organizations will receive to make the hubs
operational, the City will also provide funds to hubs to hire a community member to serve as a
city liaison responsible for coordinating between organization staff and the Equity Office staff.
The city must be responsive to the city liaison in each hub. The city liaisons will help direct resources to groups in need. (Total central staffing $300,000 annually)
Once established, the hubs will implement the following recommendations of the Community
Equity Reinvestment group:
A. Pilot a Guaranteed Income project.
a. Why?
i. Cities across the country have begun to implement guaranteed income pilot
programs. These pilots target particularly vulnerable and underserved communities and provide a steady and reliable income stream that helps recipients respond to needs as they arise and at their own discretion. Nearly half
of the US population experiences income fluctuations of 25% or more, and
nearly 40% of the population cannot afford an emergency expense of $400.
As income inequality in the US steepens year after year, millions of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and we are beginning to see concentrated areas of poverty experience parallel rises in policing and respective
declines in residents’ social determinants of health. Cities have begun to
stimulate these regions with direct and consistent cash assistance and are
seeing complete revitalization of these communities. Previous and ongoing
experiments have found the following results for participants: better educational outcomes, substantive improvements in physical and mental health,
significant reduction of predatory debt, and greater confidence in having
basic necessities met. They have also found no appreciable impacts on the
labor market.
In Austin, we have the foundation to make this pilot possible. We have facilitated a few successful initiatives and have the infrastructure needed to
launch such a pilot. As a result of the COVID pandemic, the RISE resolution
launched programs that have transferred one-time direct cash assistance
to residents facing the health and economic impacts of the pandemic. We
now have the mechanisms and expertise needed to launch a more impactful
guaranteed income program.
In addition to the multiple RISE programs implemented by the city of Austin,
there are innovative pilot programs occurring locally as well as nationally.
One example is a recent partnership with local philanthropic funds ($1.2M)
that partnered with 100 families on a 12-month pilot starting in March. This
initiative has invested $12,000 per family over 12 months ($1,000/month).
Research on the impacts is currently underway to learn from the families.
As the City of Austin considers how to reallocate resources for and reimagine
approaches to anti-displacement, housing stabilization, and public safety,
the Innovation Office, Equity Office, Neighborhood Housing and Community Development, and the Mayor’s Office are exploring income transfers and
Guaranteed Income programs that adopt a strength-based approach. This
approach includes listening to and learning from communities and providing
unrestricted capital while allowing families to have choice and control over
their initiatives. Guaranteed income programs also serve as a form of repair
for the historic and structural economic inequities that Black, indigenous and
other communities of color have faced for hundreds of years nationally and
locally. A substantial investment from the city of Austin is imperative.
b. How it will work:
i. Guaranteed Income Project Pilot: $1,000 monthly for one year to 200 households per hub x 5 hubs. Total $12 million annually.
ii. Cash grants will go to neighborhood hubs that will directly distribute funds
on a recurring basis to eligible residents in the area.
iii. The project will be targeted to people who are most in need based on established criteria rather than an open lottery.
iv. The City Equity Office will convene a process that determines eligibility requirements using the equity assessment tool.
v. The Equity Office staff have offered their support and have stated they are
willing to coordinate with staffing and direct cash assistance.
vi. The Equity Office will support efforts to provide benefit recipients financial
counseling services for each potential recipient of guaranteed income funds.
These financial counselors will walk each prospective recipient through a personalized explanation and exploration of their benefit services and explain
how guaranteed income payments may interfere or impact other benefit
payments they are currently receiving.
vii. The Equity Office will facilitate coordination with Texas Health and Human
Services to ensure that guaranteed income payments are not included in
benefit-related calculations of income so as to not interfere with essential
benefit services that eligible residents may currently be receiving. The Equity
Office will take significant measures to meet with other successful guaranteed income pilot projects in order to research and explore methods in which
the distribution of guaranteed income payments does not interfere with
other benefit payments residents may be receiving.
viii. The Equity Office will also implement an evaluation process so as to measure
and assess performance on an annual basis. This data can inform continued
implementation and support consistent improvement in accessibility, feasibility, and reach. It can also be helpful for other similar efforts across the
B. Identify current area-specific city funds that are designated for communities also selected
for hub placement and designate hubs as the fund managers for those resource pools.
a. Additionally, we believe our communities could widely benefit from access to public resources such as city buildings, equipment, police vehicles etc. As demonstrated
in our winter storm, there were so many resources available that the city failed to
mobilize or make accessible. Buildings went unused that could have been used as
shelters from the cold; heavy-duty police vehicles capable of weathering the conditions could have been used to transport stranded and hungry individuals but they
remained vacant and unused. Thus, we demand public and community ownership
of city equity and property and expect the city to provide access to resources that
are either under-utilized or misused.
b. Any funding streams devoted to area-specific interventions (Project Connect, Riverside Togetherness) should be redirected to neighborhood hubs for leadership and
decision-making capacities, informed and driven by feedback solicited from residents of these areas.
C. The city will set aside a larger pool of new renewable funds from both the APD budget
and other city funds. Total $32.8 Million annually. The City must commit to continuing to
redirect funds away from APD. But redirecting funds from APD’s budget is insufficient for
the deep investments of significant resources that are needed to provide communities
with the tools to implement housing and neighborhood stability measures–measures
that will assist in preventing crises, rather than simply responding to them. In addition to
funds redirected from APD’s budget, various other funding sources intended to address
housing instability and displacement must be placed in the hands of the communities that
are most directly impacted–communities that have been demanding anti-displacement
resources from the City for decades. Among those funding sources that should be overseen by directly impacted communities are: affordable housing bond funds, the housing
trust fund, the Mayor’s Strike Fund, Project Connect anti-displacement funds, and general
revenue funds (collectively referred to as, “anti-displacement funds”).The city will work
with local, directly-impacted community members to develop longer-term proposals for
community reinvestment, which could include new low-cost housing on city-owned property, anti-displacement measures to maintain existing housing, flood mitigation efforts,
expanded direct cash assistance, etc. Decision making will be place-based and will occur
through a community planning process developed by community member councils. Resources will be allocated for both the planning process and to implement the projects that
are identified. In addition, short-term investment programs will be funded by the City,
using funds redirected from APD’s budget, and will be administered by the hubs, to prevent displacement and destabilization of communities. These micro-loan and micro-grant
programs are detailed below.
D. Develop and implement a community-based investment process to support investments
that proactively prevent crises rather than respond to crises, by empowering communities
to implement housing and neighborhood stability measures.
a. Why?
i. The impact of housing insecurity is profound. Tenants, whose wages do
not keep up with rent, are cost-burdened, experience financial strain and/
or displacement have been shown to experience a wide variety of chronic
stress-related health impacts. Factors such as poor housing quality, stress
of financial and housing instability, and lack of funds for nutritious food and
healthcare often lead to poor health outcomes. Disruption of social networks
can exacerbate these health challenges.
The city must invest in the assets that these communities already possess,
such as social cohesion among community members and neighborhood
businesses, and provide resources to prevent some of the economic stressors that impact community residents’ health.
It’s crucial that these communities are provided the resources to determine
and develop the appropriate solutions for the various stressors and issues
they face.
b. How it will work:
i. With oversight from the geographically-based neighborhood hubs, community members will lead the process to manage city-designated funds for
area-specific impact. The city should make an initial investment of $6 million
per hub and commit to an additional annual deposit of $6 million per hub
per year for the next 10 years to establish a micro-loan program, an emergency micro-grant assistance fund, and a rental micro-grant assistance fund.
These are described in more detail, in Section D, below.
ii. Hubs will develop community member councils who will decide how these
neighborhood funds and grants should be administered. The micro-loans
will not replace emergency relief funds or crisis relief funds; these are purely
intended to be used for community development and equity investment.
iii. These community member councils will also determine how anti-displacement funds should be invested. The use of an equity assessment tool is
required to determine how funds will be used. The community member
councils will engage in community planning efforts to determine appropriate place-based measures to achieve housing stability. These councils must
include renters among their members.
E. Anti-Displacement Funding and Community Assistance Funding
a. A portion of the micro-loan program funds–up to 50%–may be used to develop
a small business capital fund or small business loan program to support existing
community-serving businesses in the area and/or to develop innovative economic
security models for vulnerable residents, such as cooperative businesses (e.g., daycares) run by local residents.
b. At least 50% of the micro-loan program funds will be used to provide micro loans
for individual and family needs, such as rental assistance, home repair assistance,
childcare assistance, car repairs, and other unforeseen needs. The micro-loans will
not replace emergency relief funds or crisis relief funds,
c. Separately, funds will be allocated to community hubs to support an emergency
assistance micro-grant fund. This micro-grant fund will be used to provide emergency relief for residents facing urgent financial burdens, such as utility assistance,
eviction prevention assistance, assistance with medical expenses, etc.
d. Separately, funds will be allocated to community hubs to support a Rental Assistance or Tenants’ Support Program, post-pandemic.
e. At least 25% of current and future affordable housing bond money and affordable
housing general fund dollars — in addition to other funding sources, such as the
Mayor’s Strike Fund and Project Connect anti-displacement funds — will be allocated
to the community hubs for purposes of implementing place-based anti-displacement measures. These anti-displacement measures may include land acquisition,
community land trusts, and other displacement mitigation strategies. Community
member councils may also use bond money to oversee the development of housing or other resources on city owned property within the hub’s geographical boundaries.
f. A portion of the above-described anti-displacement funds will be set aside for use
by community member councils to develop the capacity of tenants, homeowners,
and other vulnerable populations to organize, strategize, and advocate for policies
that protect deeply affordable rental properties and home ownership.
Current Fiscal Year Costs
Establish 10 community partnerships
$1 million
Provide financial assistance to meet immediate community needs ($1,000,000
per area)
$10 million
Total – Current Fiscal Year Funds $11 million
Annual Investment FY 2021-22 and Beyond
(Note: The total request reflects the establishment of only 5 neighborhood hubs. If more than 5
hubs are selected, the totals should be adjusted accordingly.)
Staffing, administration, and programming for 5 neighborhood hubs
$2.5 million
One city liaison (to neighborhood hubs);
two Equity Office hires to provide oversight and support to the program
Guaranteed Income Project Pilot
($1,000 monthly for one year to 200
households per hub x 5 hubs)
$12 million
Community Investment Fund
Establish Loan Program to support existing small businesses & entrepreneurship opportunities; half of these funds
will be used to fund a micro-loan program for emergency rental assistance,
emergency home repair assistance,
eviction prevention, and other unforeseen emergencies. ($4 million per
neighborhood hub, total $20 million)
Establish Emergency Assistance Fund to
provide emergency relief for residents:
housing assistance; utility assistance;
home/car repairs; health expenditures;
etc. ($1 million per hub, total $5 million)
Continuation of Rental Assistance
Program in neighborhood hub areas –
($1 million per neighborhood hub, total
$5 million)
$30 million
Total – Annual Investment $44,800,000
Secure funds from other city revenue sources to support neighborhood hubs:
Bond Funding Dedicated for Affordable
Dedicate 25% of funds to mitigate displacement in neighborhood hubs
Annual General Fund Allocations for
Affordable Housing
Dedicate 25% of funds to mitigate displacement in neighborhood hubs
Other anti-displacement funds Community member councils for designated hubs to direct and oversee
expenditure of the majority of anti-displacement funds.
In addition to advancing our goal of equity reinvestment, we support the recommendation from
the Public Health Reinvestment working group regarding a Community Health Workers Network
and Training Hub.
As an additional step towards this City’s divestment from policing and investment into community wellbeing, stability, growth and safety, this Working Group supports and calls for the
implementation of the Community Health Workforce recommendation set forth by the Public
Health Reinvestment working group. We believe the development of a community health worker
workforce complements our recommendations in advancing our goal of equity reinvestment.
We envision collaboration between our proposed community hubs and the development of a
workforce that would create opportunities for many of the people in our communities who have
not been given access to or have been able to have stable careers with dignified compensation.
For years and years, systemic racism has destabilized our communities and preyed on our poverty and necessity, targeting people of color and feeding them through the pipelines of military
enrollment and law enforcement training. Providing new opportunities centered in community
care and collaboration, investing in the expertise that lived experiences provide, and prioritizing
healing and restoration rather than violence and oppression, is a clear step towards community
wellbeing, stability, growth, and safety and we urge Council to adopt this measure.
Centering the voices of those most directly harmed by systems in Reimagining Public Safety conversations by creating processes and opportunities for disproportionately impacted residents
to offer up their experiences and own thoughts on what they need to feel safe. The input will
ensure task force working group proposals and recommendations are informed by community
members and not just organizational representatives.
Alicia Torres:
Alicia Torres, RPS TF member; email:
Rebecca Sanchez; email:
Monica Guzmán, RPS TF member; email: monica@
Cary Roberts
Temitope Olujobi; email:
Doris Adams; email:
Lucy Nguyen; email:
Background & Context
The current system and procedures Austin City Council
has in place for engaging the constituents they serve does
not meet the need for the community to feel heard and
be involved in the decision making process. The Reimagining Public Safety Meaningful Community Engagement Workgroup strongly recommends that the City Council significantly improve
the process in place as it is imperative for our community to have input on actions that affect
our everyday lives. This is especially true for community members who are the most impacted
by decisions the City makes around public safety, ie, our undocumented, people experienxing
homelessness, disabled, LGBTQIA+, low income and/or BIPOC community members who are
not represented in the City Council and are often disregarded.
The Meaningful Community Engagement Workgroup gathered testimony from the most directly
impacted community members on their experiences trying to engage with the City Council and
influence decision making that impacts their lives. Resident feedback was gathered through
public virtual listening sessions as well as a set of online surveys. From this information we have
determined that the main areas of focus for the City Council to remedy the current system and
procedures for engaging directly impacted constituents in decision making should be:
Power to The Polls
Artwork by Adriana Arriaga
Sourced from Amplifier Art
Meaningful Community Engagement Working Group
1. Community Outreach
a. Ensure information communicated by the City is transparent and language
1. Community Engagement
a. Ensure residents are centered and engaged prior to, during and after all decision making
2. Accessibility
a. Language (translation + interpretation)
b. Time/location
c. Technology
3. Investment
a. Ensure equitable community investment to support improved involvement of
directly impacted constituents in the City decision making processes
With these main areas of focus, we constructed a set of community centered recommendations
that are essential for the City Council to implement to better engage with the constituents they
represent. The recommendations are intrinsically linked to the Reimagining Public Safety Task
Force Guiding Values which we, not only as Task Force representatives but also constituents and
community members, firmly maintain should be at the center of all City Council operations.
A. Recommendation 1 – Prioritize community access to decision making in city council
meetings that is transparent and culturally responsible with the diversity of cultures, accessibilities & languages of constituents:
• Utilize paid commercials, TV, Radio, social media, billboards & busses, bus stops (in multiple languages) to notify the community about City Council conduct prior to, during and
post any city council meetings
• Community members don’t all have access to and/or know how to navigate the City
of Austin website to find information about the City and City Council therefore, it is
essential to use a variety of communications tools to notify the public. During the
Project Connect campaign, we as community members have observed how capable
the City of Austin and City Council can be with regards to publicizing information and
community outreach. The Meaningful Community Engagement Workgroup recommends that the City Council utilize much of the same strategies and systems employed during the promotion for Project Connect to publicize all City Council meetings.
• All information being publicized should be translated in all the most spoken languages, taking into consideration geographic areas that have specific communities with
high limited English proficiency. All information should also be ready to be immediately translated if requested by community members.During City Council Meetings,
before each council vote takes place, publicly name how many community members
(registered/spoke against/for) an item.
• i.e. Even though 367 people registered against this item, City Council is voting unanimously to approve, etc.
• Report back re: Actions taken by City Council Meeting after each meeting to include:
• Votes and how each member voted
• The public response/commentary, i.e. how many folks registered or spoke in opposition & for items
• Both reports shall be written in accessible language describing what the vote
means, so they are easier to read and understand
• Revise the City of Austin website that would ensure it is professionally translated,
much easier to navigate, more user-friendly
B. Recommendation 2: Make City Council meeting processes more accessible to community members to participate in while centering the voices and experiences of
those most directly impacted.
• Implement a Tier System that allows people who are the most impacted by an upcoming
City Council decision to share testimony first, working with CBOs and the Equity Office to
identify relevant tiers for the particular decisions being considered
• i.e. In the RPS Task Force Community Listening Session the speaker tier system we
created prioritized those who have been most directly been impacted by actions
taken by APD
• Significantly improve the current translation and interpretation service system by offering
a larger variety of languages spoken by our community members in real time during City
Council meetings and make the audio recordings available for community members to
visit at any time.
• Burmese
• Spanish
• Korean
• Arabic
• Chinese (Mandarin)
• Vietnamese
• Urdu
• Make speaker registration and speaker waiting process more efficient and accessible for
virtual or in-person city council meetings, including:
• Allowing registered speakers to testify in whichever format they chose, including
submitting video, audio, voicemails, and written testimony to be played during the
meeting and simultaneously interpreted on the spot
• Reducing dial-in waiting time by allowing registered speakers to leave voicemails for
virtual meetings
• Creating a system that allows community members to dial into city council meetings at any time
• Eliminate the rule of people having to pre-register to speak; council meetings
should be open for everyone to participate at all times
• Eliminate the rule of people that will need translation having to request interpretation and registering 2 days before everyone else
• Recommendation 3: – Require City Council members to develop a robust community
engagement strategy to actively engage and center community members in their
district most impacted by city council decisions.
• Have at least 1 community listening and feedback session, and 1 Q & A session (available
in multiple languages, accessibility formats, etc.) on items they are sponsoring/co-sponsoring for each city council meeting.
• Publicly identify *actual* connections that were made with community organizations or
groups to solicit input and expertise from community members on proposed items.
• Invest in community-based organizations who have relationships with people most impacted by decisions and create a rich two-way communication to assure that you make
constituent informed decisions.
• Given the strong oral tradition in many communities, holding sessions where people can discuss issues firsthand will support a feeling that their opinion matters.
Optimally these would be more intimate events held where people live/or in small
community-based Zoom sessions and could be co-sponsored by the CBOs. Building positive relationships with the community is central to assuring community
• Invest in and engage with existing community centers and neighborhood “hubs” proposed
by other Reimagining Public Safety Task Force work groups.
• Recommendation 4: IMMEDIATELY invest $5M for the Communications & Public Information Office (CPIO) budget to cover translation and interpretation services, and
every city department must:
• Include a base budget line item for community engagement, flexible funds to pay partners
(community organizations) for the following (including/but not limited to):
• translation/interpretation services
• child care
• venue support
• remote access support
• request community organization(s) to provide facilitation
• community person(s) who can provide above
• stipend for resident(s) with lived experience to support above
• Engage community partners (organizations) who are already engaged with and center
residents; and,
• $250K, annually, added to the base budget of the Equity Office for 2 new staff members
(salary/benefits for 2 FTEs).
P a t ro l a n d S u r v e i l l a n c e Wo r ki n g G ro u p
Addressing why and how patrol and surveillance policies harm Black, Indigenous, and People of
Color (BIPOC) communities and fail to develop community safety. The group will explore how to
divest funding from these operational areas towards creative solutions to community needs.
David Johnson:
Working group members:
David Johnson
Sue Gabriel
Rodney Sáenz
Bethany Carson
Background and context:
Police do not and cannot prevent crime from
happening. In 2019, fewer than half of crimes
in the U.S. were reported, and fewer than half
of those reported were solved.1 Only 32.5% of
household property crimes were reported and
only 17.2% of property crimes reported were
Police do not spend most of their time addressing
violent crime. Less than 1% of calls APD responds to
are related to violent crime.3 Even then, there is often
little they can do by the time they arrive. Consider
this person who took our survey and recounted their experience with police after a home robbery:
“We experienced a home robbery here in Austin and our door was broken. The officers told
us they couldn’t do anything about it. They said if it made us feel better they could take some
finger prints but it was very unlikely anything would come of that.”
Since police don’t prevent crime, or “solve” crime in most cases, what do they do? Patrol
policing emerged out of a need to surveil and exercise control over Black, Brown, and poor
Protect Kids Not Guns
Artwork by Micah Bazant
Sourced from Amplifier Art
communities through threat of violence.4 Based on present day data and lived experience, its
impact remains the same. Patrol is not only ineffective, but actively harmful to those communities.
• From 2015-2021, police killed at least 35 people (4 more died in their custody but APD
claimed they were suicide or accidental deaths).
• The Joyce James report found that “residents in Austin neighborhoods with a higher percentage of African American or Hispanic/Latinx residents, those in poverty, and neighborhoods with higher crime rates, had disproportionate force and severity of force used
upon them.”5
• According to the city’s Joint Analysis of APD Racial Profiling Data, racial profiling data
reveals stark racial disparities in motor vehicle stops and searches. Black people make
up about 8% of Austin’s population but account for 14% of traffic stops, 25% of stops
resulting in searches, and 25% of stops resulting in arrest. Black people were most overrepresented in all categories except citations where Hispanic people were most overrepresented. White people were underrepresented in all categories.6
Consistent with the task force principles of prioritizing those most directly harmed by our
current policing systems, the Patrol & Surveillance working group met with 40 people directly
impacted by incarceration, deportation, or immigration enforcement to hear about what safety
means to them, as well as their experiences with policing. To date, we have collected 39 surveys,
which were disseminated by word of mouth to people directly impacted and their immediate
Our respondents’ experiences, feelings, and beliefs reflect what we see from the history and
aggregate data: that police do not keep them or their communities safe. Participants expressed
support for the vision of reallocating harmful areas of policing to other community resources
that would make them feel safer.
Imagining a safe community without police patrol and surveillance can seem idealistic, but in
reality these spaces exist today. Consider the experience of one participant in our community
engagement session:
“We moved to a pretty white, affluent suburb. And I remember seeing that there were no police
by the grocery store, not at the parks. Nowhere. If you want to know what a community without police looks like, go to a wealthy, white suburb. It’s what their day to day looks like. It’s very
unmarked by any sort of surveillance, any sort of police presence. And I remember how striking that was…The fact is that when there is economic security, childcare, healthcare, housing,
food and water, the need for the police to be there clearly isn’t necessary. I just want to remind
4 See the history of policing timeline developed by the task force, including the Fugitive Slave Law, “vigilance
committees” to “drive Latinos out of Austin,” the decision to create a police force in Austin due to the fact that
“a large number of Negroes turned loose by their owners are congregating in and about Austin,” and APD Chief
Morris’ order that “all Black people found idle without work should be arrested and fined with vagrancy.” https://
people who want to block this idea by saying we can’t abolish the police that there are many
instances in our society right now, where you don’t see the presence of police in people’s day to
day community. That’s important to remember.”
Long term, we must divest from this entire racist, classist model of patrol policing.
• The entire $210,604,299 Neighborhood-Based Policing line item in the APD budget
should be phased out because it is based on an inherently problematic model. Driving
around looking for “criminals” is based in a system of surveillance and control enforced
through the threat of violence.
• No more cadet classes. Training officers in this model will inevitably create an “us vs.
them” mentality regardless of what the training looks like.
• Phase out all use of deadly weapons. Maintaining a fully armed and staffed police force
is a public safety threat. It is intolerable that many Black and Brown people pulled over in
traffic stops fear for their lives from the people who are paid to protect them. This reality
cannot be addressed with more community outreach; it will only be resolved by stopping
the danger to their lives.
• Traffic enforcement should be decoupled. State level changes are needed to decriminalize traffic offenses and allow unarmed civil servants to direct traffic and make stops
for civil traffic violations. There are some interim changes that are possible now.
• Reallocate money from policing to reinvest in economic, health, and housing
resources that create REAL safety and well-being for overpoliced communities.
Communities of color are deprived of the resources they need to survive, which fuels a
vicious cycle of criminalization. We are all safer when everyone in our community has
what they need to survive.
The following recommendations should be implemented beginning in FY2021 to reduce the
public safety threat posed by patrol and surveillance and to reinvest in holistic public safety.
The majority of these items are budgeted year after year, creating the opportunity for ongoing
reinvestment in community resources and services.
Safety is…an end to discriminatory and dangerous patrol.
Communities of color in Austin live under constant threat of police violence. They are heavily overrepresented in police use of force incidents and homicides. Particular programs and
units glaringly contribute to these disparities and dangers. Black and Brown people are heavily
over-represented in the data APD uploads into the Texas Gang Database.7 The Riverside Togetherness Project, which increased police presence to patrol for low level traffic and ‘quality of
life’ offenses in the several block radius of where Mike Ramos was killed is still in operation.
APD seriously injured dozens of people in last year’s racial justice protests but is still responsible
7 According to information provided by APD responsive to an open records request by Grassroots Leadership.
Other cities such as Chicago have researched the extreme racial disparities and criminalization of minors that
results from gang enforcement. 18_final.pdf
APD seriously injured dozens of people in last year’s racial justice protests but is still responsible
for “crowd management”. Property can be declared a nuisance and seized if allegedly patronized by people committing a crime, feeding displacement, gentrification, and the wealth gap.8
APD houses a US Marshals task force notorious for its toxic warrior culture and unaccountable
killing of civilians at rates higher than local police departments.9 Numerous reports have noted
the persistent warrior and “us vs. them” mentality of the cadet academy. Yet the city continues
to fund these programs and units that have been found to increase danger and disparities for
people of color. The best way to stop this disparate harm is to cut funding for what causes it.
1. Defund the following budget items:
• $216,581 Crowd management
• $2,276,488 Gang Suppression Unit
• $312,381 Nuisance Abatement
• $600,00010 Riverside Togetherness Project
• $1,453,743 US Marshals’ Lone Star Fugitive Task Force
• $685,161 Weapons and military supplies (rifles, pistols, ammunition, “less lethal”,
targets & backers)
• ~$7.6M Training and recruitment of new cadets11(From Reimagine fund: cadet training, training, recruiting + $2.2M under consideration for current class from deferral in
retirement increases and overtime12)
Total: ~$12.5 Million
2. Disarm traffic patrol that cannot be immediately decoupled:
• It is unacceptable that Black and Brown community members must fear for their lives
during routine traffic stops. Officers who conduct routine traffic stops should not be
armed with deadly weapons, but instead receive more and better training in de-escalation. We understand that this recommendation will require reorganization of how APD
structures patrol, as all neighborhood patrol units currently take part in traffic enforcement. This unit could also be used as a pilot for further disarmament of the department, consistent with our recommendation to entirely phase out the Department’s use
of deadly weapons.
• No weapons budget should be included with the addition of new sworn FTE’s.
3. Reallocate this money to fund services that will help mitigate the impact to communities
most harmed.
• Fund immigrant defense through the public defender’s office
• Fund direct cash assistance for overpoliced communities through a guaranteed
8 A ProPublica analysis found that the toll of nuisance abatement actions falls almost exclusively on minorities
and that there are devastating impacts for people not convicted of any crime.
10 Federal grant funding. Not included in total as the funding could not be reallocated.
11 This year is unique because Council did not allocate money to cadet class salaries and decreased other line
items. Based on the budget proposed by the City Manager for this fiscal year, these items would equal $7,972,069.
income pilot through geographic neighborhood hubs as proposed by the Equity
Reinvestment in Community working group.
• Fund health, including behavioral and mental health initiatives for overpoliced
communities, including funding for community health workers as proposed by the
Public Health Reinvestment working group.
Safety is…being able to live and exist peacefully in your neighborhood, social, and recreational spaces without constant police presence and harassment The history of policing in
Austin shows that police originated to exercise control and violence over communities of color.13
Racial profiling reports, the number of people of color killed and brutalized by APD, and the
lived experiences of people we’ve interviewed show that this has not changed. (One respondent
reported that three officers drew their guns on their teenage son while he was walking in Coronado
Hills. He was told he “fit the description” of someone the police were looking for but was ultimately
let go. Another respondent was arrested while parked at the gym in an interaction where the officer
asked to search the vehicle, was verbally threatening, and used physical force.) We must end policing of recreational and free speech spaces and significantly decrease neighborhood patrol. We
know what safe neighborhoods without constant police presence look like because that’s the
reality of most white, affluent neighborhoods. The city must stop funding excessive policing and
reallocate funds to resources such as direct cash assistance, low-income housing, and anti-displacement funds for overpoliced communities.
1. Defund the following budget items
• $3,174,647 Overtime
• $5,634,493 Park Police
• $2,042,835 Mounted Patrol
• $53,519 Specialized Patrol
• $17M ~10% of “Neighborhood policing” patrol
• $7,408,707 Motors
Total: ~35.3M
2. End investigative / discretionary stops and “officer initiated” calls:
• People pulled over in discretionary stops are disproportionately Black and brown.
In Fayetteville, North Carolina de-prioritization of all violations other than speeding,
DWI, running stop signs or lights, or other “unsafe movement” led to a 50% decline
in the number of Black drivers searched – one of our largest disparities in Austin14.
Use of force, injuries to civilians and officers, and complaints against officers also
decreased. Reallocate money previously spent on these stops to resources that
create real safety for overpoliced communities.
• This would reduce interactions like one person described in our survey. “Was pulled
over because I reached into back seat to stop plastic bag from flying out window. Cop
thought I was hiding something. Ultimately cited for expired sticker.” They reported
that this caused financial struggles, a negative mental health impact, and created
or worsened distrust of law enforcement – all because an officer saw a conscientious move to stop trash from flying out the window as suspicious.
14 Jallow, Ahmed, March 29, 2021. Taking Cops out of Traffic Stops – Does it Make a Difference?, WRAL. https:// &fbclid=IwAR2AXpEQrzS-JD_6Rz8KmH6ISEQvEacNEDPqKG5TpAPiMjl46zz7eT-Dcco15
3. Decouple the following items from APD:
• Traffic enforcement units that do not involve directing traffic, conducting traffic
stops, or filing criminal charges:
• $99,536 Traffic Administration
• $590,760 AV/Wrecker
• $2,766,584 Highway enforcement / Commercial vehicle unit
• ~$300,00015 Vehicle Abatement
• $4,471,999 Special events: Take APD entirely out of event review and security. Convene a team of community members to co-create a re envisioned process for event
safety that includes unarmed security. Re-assess needs and reduce spending so
that some of this money can be reallocated.
• $1,445,684 Lake Patrol Search and rescue functions would be performed more
quickly and effectively by EMS. Currently, people needing medical care experience
dangerously long wait times because the first responders are police instead of
paramedics. Any portion of this budget not needed for search and rescue functions
should be reallocated.
• $309,928 Homelessness (HOST): This should be reallocated to a public health and
social service response that does not involve APD or any armed security. Total: ~$10M
Safety is…freedom of speech and movement without surveillance
In Austin, community members who are organizing events or simply going about their daily lives
are subject to ever-growing surveillance. Through video surveillance and real-time monitoring,
we are all being watched. Through the Austin Regional Intelligence Center (ARIC), a cadre of
untrained informants are encouraged to report “suspicious behavior”. Recently, Black activists
organizing cultural events were surveilled by a social media mining contract, also through ARIC.
This data, as well as police interactions are uploaded into databases shared with hundreds of
other law enforcement agencies, including DHS and ICE. This surveillance leans into Trumpian narratives of Black organizers as “Black Identity Extremists” and lays the groundwork for
COINTEL-PRO style attacks on community organizers at the local and federal level. It also endangers immigrant communities by sharing their location data with ICE, placing anyone who leaves
their home at risk of deportation and family separation. The city must immediately defund and
decommission this surveillance infrastructure and ensure that data is deleted from shared law
enforcement databases.
1. Defund the following budget items
• $2,022,228 Austin Regional Intelligence Center (ARIC)
• $2,402,429 *Real Time Crime Center / HALO
• $55,500.00 StarChase Pursuit Management Technology Solution
Total: ~$4.5M
2. Provide transparency about the use (technical capabilities, function and location) of all APD
drones, including the 13 donated by Austin Crime Commission. Immediately cease the use of
these drones for video surveillance and delete any footage from law enforcement databases.
3. Ban the use of facial recognition software, such as Clearview AI16, by any APD officer or city
15 Rough estimate based on $2.1M Traffic Investigation (Major) line item that includes both Vehicle Abatement
and Vehicular Homicide Investigation.
16 This report found that APD had conducted 11-50 searches using Clearview AI. This could potentially be due
Safety is…ending the war on drugs and treating drug use as a public health issue
Communities of color have been deeply harmed by the war on drugs. Many drug possession and distribution statutes were crafted to have intentionally harsher sentences for
substances more often used by Black, brown, and poor communities. Many disparities
remain. The 2020 Austin racial profiling report showed stark racial disparities in probable
cause searches leading to arrest and prosecution for drug charges. K9 units can exacerbate the impact of existing bias, as it has been shown that handlers often consciously or
unconsciously cue their dogs when they expect to find something, which then allows a
search.17They can also lead to greater use of force and escalate encounters unnecessarily
due to the historic trauma associated with police dogs, particularly for Black Americans.18
Furthermore, criminalization and incarceration fail to address addiction or its underlying
causes. Imagine the behavioral and mental health treatment services that we could fund
with $10.4 million, and the impact on safety in families and communities if the city funded recovery instead of punishment.
1. Defund the following budget items:
• $1,713,812 K-9 Unit
• $1,286,953 K-9 Interdiction
• ~7.5M Narcotics (conspiracy, support, street)
Total: $10.4M
2. Reallocate this money to fund:
• Behavioral and mental health treatment services, particularly Harm Reduction
drop-in centers and concurrent Medication Assisted Treatment programs as
recommended by the Public Health Reinvestment working group
• Low-income and supportive housing, including a harm reduction housing first
program as recommended by the Public Health Reinvestment working group and
housing trusts for trans people of color, housing subsidy programs, and crisis safety net programs as recommended by the VSSP working group.
Safety is…an end to manipulative and self-promoting police interactions with community
When police are paid to hand out food and toys, and have dialogues in under-resourced communities while continuing to harass, injure, and kill members of those same communities, that is
manipulation not relationship building. When officers attend neighborhood or business association meetings, it’s a paid opportunity to lobby for more officers in response to concerns about
property damage or loitering, while doing nothing to provide resources that would address the
root causes of those issues. When uniformed officers run programs for under-resourced kids or
hand out baseball cards in schools, we are teaching a whole new generation that safety means
police, even as youth of color are killed by police outside the limited context of those programs.
It is APD’s responsibility to stop the harm, not the community’s responsibility to trust or forgive
police while harm continues to occur. Instead of paying officers to do damage control for APD’s
to an officer using a free trial, without the knowledge of department leadership or the public. ynamic&utm_campaign=bftwfwd&ref=bftwfwd&d_id=2086347
image, the city should reallocate these resources to fund community based initiatives that truly
prevent and address violence.
1. Defund the following budget items:
• $2,513,050 Community Partnerships
• $728,285 District Representatives
Total: $3.2M
2. Reallocate this money to fund:
• Community-based violence prevention education programs as recommended by
the Violence Survivor Services and Prevention (VSSP) working group
• Community Rooted Safety grant program as recommended by VSSP working
• Cure Violence or Hospital Based Violence Intervention program as recommended
by VSSP working group
Safety is…equity and accountability
Currently there are no mandatory screening processes to assess the equity impact of APD contracts, grants, and donations, and little transparency or opportunity for community input prior
to approval of this funding. Contracts to surveil and attack community members and activists,
such as the recent purchase of less lethal weapons immediately after they were violently used
against protestors, have been non-transparently approved even after enormous public outcry
about the harm they have caused19. Despite its massive budget, APD has still dipped into the
general fund to cover unallocated expenditures for items such as overtime and drones. APD has
quietly accepted donations from groups such as the Austin Crime Commission, furthering deeply embedded historic alliances between police and white elites.
1. Take contracting out of APD control.
2. Create a mandatory equity screening process for all APD contracts and grants.
• Require all potential APD contracts over $5,000 be reviewed by the Equity Office
(through the process recommended by the Uprooting Punitive and Harmful Culture
working group) BEFORE APD is able to enter into a competitive bidding process to
solicit the product/service or submit a grant proposal, such as the one approved
recently for less lethal weapons. The contract or grant should not be solicited if it
received a failing score from the Equity Office.
• Any new contract or one up for renewal over $50,000 must pass the Equity Office
screening prior to soliciting the product/service AND receive community input in a
public meeting posted with 10 days notice before it can be approved.
3. Any proposed spending, including grant funding or donations, for previously unallocated
items (such as the recently purchased highway drones), or overspent budget items, (such as
recent overtime expenditures), should require Equity Office approval, and then come before
Council for a vote before pulling money from outside the department.
Reallocate this year: ~$66M. Some of these items are already in Reimagine and Decouple
funds, but have not yet been reallocated. No funding that has been shifted from APD into the
Reimagine or Decouple fund should be given back to APD. True reimagining involves shifting
resources to true solutions for holistic public safety, not moving money around from one APD
function to another.
Decouple this year: ~$10M. These are functions that are needed for public safety but can be
done more effectively and with less harm outside of APD. Some of this funding should be able
to be reallocated to other areas once staffing expenses and necessary functions are reevaluated in the decoupling process.
P o l i c e S t a f f i n g : P a t ro l a n d C r i m i n a l I n v e s t i g a t i o n s
Working Group
Evaluating current police staffing and patrol models to develop recommendations for effective
alternative approaches to crime deterrence while reducing the negative impact of patrol and
criminal investigation procedures on vulnerable communities.
Kathy Mitchell:
Cary Roberts
Kathy Mitchell
Sue Gabriel
Jessica Johnson
Nick Hudson
Chas Moore
Amanda Lewis
Background & Context
1. Lake patrol should be handled by EMS.
Why: Austin Police Department Lake Patrol enforces state laws and city ordinances on
28 miles of Austin waterways, along with Travis
County Sheriff’s Office Lake Patrol, LCRA Rangers, and Texas Parks and Wildlife. APD operates
7 boats with 10 FTE’s at a cost of $1.4M. Duties
include “talking with people about safety, picking up fatigued swimmers, helping stranded
boaters, watching for reckless drivers, supporting the APD dive team in search and rescue, and underwater evidence recovery, [and] pulling dangerous debris like submerged
tree limbs out of the water.” The most common complaint handled by APD Lake Patrol is
noise. Since so much of APD’s work is related to saving lives rather than addressing criminality, and several other police agencies have concurrent jurisdiction, we recommend that
APD presence at the lake be eliminated in favor of an allocation of $1.4M to EMS, adding
5 additional EMS FTE’s (1 Captain and 4 Clinical Specialists) along with the purchase and
outfitting of two ambulance boats capable of providing Advanced Life Support care on the
Workgroup Members In Support: Jessica Johnson, Amanda Lewis, Kathy Mitchell, Chas
The Care Club
Artwork by Nana Daye
Sourced from Amplifier Art
2. The use of police dogs should be discontinued.
Why: A review of Austin dog bite cases from 2015 to 2019 has yielded the following information:
• Dog bite incidents primarily involve Hispanic and Black men.
• It is likely that some incidents have involved children.
• In only 2 of 55 cases did the bitten person have a gun.
• 35% of cases appear to involve no crime at all.
• Every person attacked by a dog will “evade” or “resist” and most did. Some garnered
serious additional criminal charges related to resisting.
Force incidents involving K9 bites should be eliminated by eliminating the use of dogs to
stop or find a fleeing suspect. According to the APD website, “Typically the K9 teams are
used to locate suspects who have fled the scene of a crime.” At minimum, the practice of
training dogs to bite people should be abolished and existing units created to use dogs
against people should be disbanded. Any K9 trained to attack a human being should be
retired to a good home.
Workgroup Members In Support: Jessica Johnson, Amanda Lewis, Kathy Mitchell, Chas
Moore, Sue Gabriel
3. The use of police horses should be discontinued.
Why: Many other cities such as Baltimore, Washington D.C., Boston, Tulsa, Las Vegas,
Kansas City, and Saint Paul have disbanded their mounted units. The mounted patrol performs ceremonial duties and crowd control downtown. Crowd control can be handled in
a variety of ways without horses. The mounted unit should be eliminated and the horses
moved to good homes because the ceremonial purpose is not sufficient to the continued
expense. The horses are very expensive to maintain and after nearly a decade APD has
not been able to build the needed stables with the money approved by voters. Officers
in the mounted unit have already been migrated to patrol, and should be permanently
Workgroup Members In Support: Jessica Johnson, Amanda Lewis, Kathy Mitchell, Chas
Moore, Sue Gabriel
4. APD should discontinue the use of officer self-initiated calls.
Why: Criminal investigation as practiced by patrol officers in self-initiated calls appear
from the available data to rarely result in a report, let alone an arrest for a crime. These
same self-initiated stops represent 35% of “call” volume, take longer than other kinds of
calls, and.sometimes result in force incidents. Non-traffic self initiated calls should also be
eliminated and that officer time allocated back to 911 call response as needed, or eligible
officers can be moved to criminal investigation units with more structure for the pursuit of
actionable information about crimes.
Workgroup Members In Support: Jessica Johnson, Amanda Lewis, Kathy Mitchell, Chas
Moore, Sue Gabriel
5. There should be a community full-curriculum review of the cadet academy.
Why: Police are supposed to protect and serve the community, but according to numerous reports commissioned by the city, APD has been trained as if officers are in a war
zone and any civilian could be an attacker. Changing the “us vs. them” mindset into a
mindset of community service, with a guardian role as part of that service, but to effectively include other service roles that police are called to fulfill, will only occur with significant change to the curriculum. APD has consistently attempted to minimize the degree
of change needed, and attempted to coral the change to a handful of courses. According
to a Kroll memo from February of this year, not long before the vote to restart the Academy, “interviews of Academy supervisors and instructors suggests the paramilitary model
continues to predominate.” (Kroll, Feb. 26, 2021, p. 5) Kroll further notes that APD leadership does not agree with key assessments from other reports related to paramilitary
academies. As of February, instructors insisted that “cadets who have not experienced
being physically assaulted or punched before arriving at the Academy should experience
this,” and “were unable to provide a persuasive rationale as to why such an exercise could
not reasonably occur towards the end of Academy after cadets have received all essential
defensive tactics training.” (p. 6) To ensure that a new model is woven through the entire
curriculum, the entire cadet curriculum and all teaching materials should be released to
the public to foster transparency and create trust with the community.
Workgroup Members In Support: Jessica Johnson, Amanda Lewis, Kathy Mitchell, Chas
6. In the spirit of truly reimagining public safety, any pre-arrest diversion strategies should
not be in lieu of decriminalization of homelessness, mental health issues, sex work, substance use and poverty, which are often the focus of pre-arrest diversion programs and
which can and should be addressed through community-based, non-police initiated interactions by peer-run harm reduction and other outreach programs.
In addition, any pre-arrest diversion strategies should not create programs that rely on
officer discretion. These police encounters can still escalate and cause serious harm to
individuals and communities as well as result in racial disparities for who is arrested.
Why: By investing in the recommendations brought forward by the Equity Reinvestments in
Community and Public Health Reinvestments working groups, the need for a pre-arrest
diversion type program would be almost non-existent.
Public Health Reinvestment Working Group
Exploring ways redefine public safety (and in some ways public health) to include access to
affordable, equitable, accessible, high quality healthcare and housing. Focus will center on recommendations for public health reinvestments in the community while divesting from harmful
punitive models.
Cate Graziani (
Gilberto Pérez
Surabhi Kukke
Joanna Saucedo
Cate Graziani – RPSTF member
Bryan Garcia
Chris Harris – RPSTF member
Elias Lang Cortez
Rachel Lee
Snehal Patel
Quincy Dunlap – RPSTF member
Shannon Jones – RPSTF member
Aaron Ferguson
Mary McDowell
With input from:
Hailey Easley
Ricardo Garay
Background & Context
Public Health is the art and science of preserving and promoting human wellbeing through collective social efforts. Public health safeguards the right of individuals and communities to define
health, and allows initiatives that balance the needs of the individual with those of the collective
to prevail. Public health is the practice of protecting and cultivating human wellbeing, and sustaining the right of individuals to pursue health and happiness. Central to these efforts is the
We All Belong Here
Artwork by Micah Bazant
Sourced from Amplifier Art
recognition that racism, socioeconomic inequality, gender & age discrimination, racist laws and
policing, hatred, and ultimately ignorance are foundational causes of health inequity.
A public health approach holds systems of power and privilege accountable to address these
systemic injustices and prioritizes actions that uproot inequality. Public health takes a humanistic approach to public affairs, relying foremost upon science and reason to guide its interventions. Self-correcting mechanisms ensure intellectual humility and a willingness to revise beliefs
in accordance with the evidence. In the pursuit of healthy populations and thriving communities,
public health initiatives assess social determinants of health, identify disparities and harmful
structures, and implement prevention and intervention strategies to ensure equitable access to
high quality, accessible and culturally informed healthcare.
Background & Context – Community Health Workers (CHWs)
The Public Health Reinvestments Work Group believes that in order to reimagine public safety,
improve health outcomes and transform our community, we must invest in a public health workforce that is well remunerated, highly regarded and serve an essential function in ensuring the
wellbeing of our communities. We recommend the City invest in a substantial cadre of Community Health Workers and the establishment of a CHW Network and Training Hub.
Community health workers are frontline public health workers who are from and have a close
relationship with the communities they serve. Because of this close relationship to the communities they work within, CHWs serve as trusted liaisons between health and social services and
community members to facilitate access to services and improve quality of service delivery.
CHWs perform a continuum of work including individual health promotion, peer support, and
service delivery, as well as community health promotion such as elevating community health
needs to decision makers and advancing community empowerment and social justice, all based
in the assets and needs of their communities. They help community members establish medical
homes to avoid using emergency rooms and urgent care for primary care, improving continuity
of care. CHWs have also been shown to reduce costs, improve health outcomes, improve quality
of care and reduce health disparities.
Workforce development: Creating an opportunity for working class people of color in Austin
to have meaningful dignified jobs with competitive salaries will be an essential part of achieving
equity and building resilience in the city. This can create a new pipeline to replace the one that
exists funneling people of color into law enforcement. Building a cadre of community health
workers supporting communities most impacted by heavy policing will create more safety and
better outcomes over time. Stable jobs with social value and a realistic salary ladder is necessary
to repair the detrimental impacts of over-policing and a solution to the perceived loss of gainful
employment for people of color by divesting from policing. APD resources can and must be reinvested in an APH workforce that reflects the communities that need it most.
Network and Hub: CHWs are most successful when they are part of a network of CHWs and
work out of community-based organizations. Establishing a Hub for regular and free, or low cost,
training and certification will provide a resource for CHWs to build and strengthen skills and receive the support and reflective supervision necessary to address the potential for burnout and
vicarious stress. Furthermore this hub could serve to educate and train employers on guidelines,
evaluation, and support for CHWs in Central Texas. CHWs will receive training on topics such as
chronic health, COVID-19, violence prevention, perinatal health, substance use and misuse, harm
reduction, mental health, crisis de-escalation, trauma-informed care and local resource navigation. All training and supervision will be built on an anti-racist, anti-stigma framework, and population education methodologies to recognize lived experiences and community ingenuity to help
build consciousness and empowerment within the community to promote health and safety.
Resources must be multilingual with investments to ensure that translation and interpretation
are available as needed. Ultimately, this hub should be led and run by CHWs, Community Health
Worker Instructors and community allies.
Background & Context – Community Health Centers
The 2017 Austin Travis County Health Assessment (CHA )found that:
• income in Travis County is unequally distributed between households and by race/ethnicity.
• having a low income is associated with increased risk factors and worse health outcomes.
• Approximately ¼ of the population aged 18 to 64 in Travis County does not have health
insurance, and cost is a barrier to health care for many. Barriers include financial access
and physical access to health care as well as knowledge of existing services.
• one out of six people report forgoing seeing a doctor due to cost.
For these reasons, the Community Health Improvement Plan’s top priority in 2018 was “Access
to and Affordability of Health Care.”
The City of Austin has a long history of underfunding low income communities of color, leaving
them without the same access to health resources and infrastructure as whiter, wealthier neighborhoods. Using a health equity lens, this recommendation calls on the City to rectify decades of
under-investment in the health of these communities by opening low-cost and sliding scale integrated care clinics in those neighborhoods and ensuring accessibility by providing transportation and telehealth options. The City should recognize that access to high quality and affordable
healthcare is the cornerstone of a healthy and safe community.
These clinics can be co-located with existing Community Recreation Centers to expand the services offered. Alternately, portions of recently closed schools in East Austin can be repurposed
for this kind of community space.
These Community Health Centers will be staffed by the Community Health Workers for the
neighborhood with clinical services being offered multiple times per week by medical residents,
nursing students and licensed counselors, ideally in collaboration with the Dell Medical School
and UT School of Nursing. Counselors should reflect the demographics of the community if not
from the community they are serving. Clinical services should include, but not limited to preventive health screenings, triage, rapid testing and referral and must have telehealth options. Other
health promotion activities like classes for cooking, exercise, mindfulness/meditation and support groups should be part of what is offered.
Community health workers can provide linkage to care, coordinate with community orgnaizations to offer support based on the needs of the community, including domestic violence and
sexual assault prevention and response, sex worker outreach and harm reduction support. Each
center should be equipped with one van that is accessibility equipped to help people get to clinic
days and other programming. Highest priority of these Community Health Centers must be in
the most over policed and heavily gentrified neighborhoods in the Eastern Crescent of Austin.
There is no mistaking that what makes individuals feel healthy and safe is not the presence of
police, it is the presence of infrastructure that cares for them and meets their needs when and
where they arise. A robust Community Health and Recreation Center model has the potential to
create the environments that result in strong health and safety outcomes for our most vulnerable communities.
Background & Context – Low-Cost Medical Supply Closets
The City should invest in stocking community medical supply closets that offer low-cost medical
supplies for residents unable to afford full price supplies. When sterile bandages and wound
care are needed to avoid and prevent more intensive medical care, cost should not be an obstacle to getting the resources needed to protect the health and well-being of our communities.
These closets should shelter wound care supplies, feminine hygiene products, pregnancy supplies, diapers, baby food and formula, first aid care, cold and flu medicines, mobility aids, products associated with care for the elderly, vitamins, pregnancy tests, sterile syringes, harm reduction supplies, Plan B medicine, family planning supplies, anti-bacterial cleaning supplies, and
pain relief and management medications.
These closets should be available in all the Community Health Centers staffed by a community
member paid a living wage. All products should be sold on a sliding scale, where someone hoping to buy supplies can buy them for what they wish to pay from $0 to $15 an item. These closets should be accessible to anyone without presentation of identification necessary.
The City subsidizing these supplies will result in reduced expenditures in other areas where
people may seek medical care. They will also promote community health and well-being and
support families in taking care of medical problems that may arise without having to go in debt
especially since over 60% of Americans can’t afford a $500 emergency.
Background & Context – Food pantry
Food and nutrition is an undeniable aspect of good health. Food deserts are a well documented crisis throughout the country and East Austin is no exception. Making inexpensive nutritious
food accessible to everyone should be a major priority of our public health system. To this end,
this workgroup proposes the availability of Free Food pantries and fridges at every Community
Health Center. The city should build partnerships with local growers and wholesalers to make
culturally relevant dry goods and produce available to community members. Ideally the Center
should have access to land where community members can till the soil and grow what is needed
for the community. The community members that take leadership in growing the food should
receive stipends for their service and contribution.
An additional measure the City should take is to provide the facilities for a licensed commercial
kitchen within the Community Health Centers. These kitchens should be equipped with all necessary kitchen gear to prepare meals for neighborhoods or catering events. The facilities should
be available to small business owners for a small fee. The City should also develop emergency
contracts with local restaurants in the event of emergencies where workers can be paid to set up
in kitchens and be equipped with ingredients and everything needed to provide hot meals.
For all of these initiatives, there should be no requests for identification or for documentation
or the requirement of documentation for a proxy of someone to receive supplies. This is intended to be a community sustained project centered in mutual aid and collective community care.
People should not face limitations in accessing the services they need to survive to serve a bureaucratic end.
Background & Context – Mental Health Services
An additional component of public health is the mental wellbeing of our community members
and residents. There are very little programs and services that either offer clinicians that can
effectively and competently provide services to predominantly marginalized populations such as
people with disabilities, queer and trans individuals, Black and brown people, and our immigrant
and undocumented community members, or non-English speakers or that provide low-cost sliding scales services and almost none that offer both. We call on the City to support and reinvest
in the collected mental wellbeing of our communities and to invest in the provision of mental
telehealth opportunities for particularly vulnerable populations.
Too often, queer people of color succumb to preventable or treatable illness and disease. The
stresses associated with oppression, combined with lack of access to or inadequate health care,
exacerbate or create avoidable health problems. Wellness dialogues, workshops and resources
that draw from the rich expertise of the community and include a holistic approach to health
and wellness and seek to provide safe spaces for community members to educate and empower themselves around health and wellness issues. This program should produce and host more
community events centered on mental health and education that is friendly and trained to work
with people of color and queer and trans folks.
Background & Context – Renewable Energy Investment
Just as access to food and water are major factors in assessing public health in our communities,
we additionally find access to power just as crucial. People in our communities must be able to
have heat and cooling capabilities especially with the drastic conditions in Texas as we witnessed
in the recent winter storm as well as with the heat we are bound to witness this upcoming summer. We use power to prepare food, many even depend on it to power life-dependent medical
equipment. We believe the City should invest in self-sufficient power sources that communities
can benefit from. We call for the city to build additional Community Solar facilities particularly
in communities that struggle the most to make on time payments on their utility bills. The city
should collaborate with Austin Energy to get eligible residents in the area connected to the solar
grids and receiving power to subsidize reliance and payments on current energy sources. This
service should be provided with no cost to residents and covered by City subsidies or federal
and state grants associated with renewable energy sources incentives.
Background & Context – Funding for Medication Assisted Treatment
The Public Health Reinvestments Work Group believes that in order to reimagine public safety,
improve health outcomes and transform our community, we recommend the City to invest in
Medication-Assisted Treatment, particularly methadone, programs.
MAT is a proven pharmacological treatment for people who are using or misusing opiate derivative drugs, governed by Opioid Treatment Programs (OTP). The backbone of this treatment is
FDA approved medications, methadone and buprenorphine. They activate opioid receptors in
the brain, preventing painful opioid withdrawal symptoms and decreasing illicit drug use. MAT
has multiple demonstrated health benefits including the reduction in drug use, overdoses, and
infectious disease acquisition. However, in Travis County individuals who are uninsured and who
cannot self-pay, face a long waiting list for methadone treatment; Individuals on a waiting list are
ten times more likely to die of an overdose.
Moreover, MAT is extremely cost effective compared to the hundreds of thousands spent annually if people are left untreated, and draw heavily on EMS, ERs, jails and other public services.
The annual cost for methadone maintenance treatment averages about $4,500 per person.
There is a six-fold return investment for every dollar invested in treating a person with opioid
use disorder who is involved with the criminal justice system
Therefore, we call on aggressive policy that recognizes MAT as a prevention modality to provide
person-centered MAT that is free, on-demand, and equitable to people using/misusing drugs in
Travis County, and to reduce the long waiting period for funded treatment that we are currently
Background & Context – Expand Community-based Harm Reduction Services for Substance
Use and Misuse
In order to better address the needs of people who are navigating substance use and misuse,
mental health issues and homelessness, the Public Health Reinvestments Work Group recommends that the City of Austin expand and fund existing harm reduction services such as syringe access, drop in centers, accessible detox, and adopt additional interventions such as
overdose prevention sites and mental health crisis respite centers to broaden the harm
reduction infrastructure in Austin and offer alternative peer-run, non-punitive settings
and supports.
Harm reduction drop-in centers are community-based programs that provide supplies; sterile
syringes, safer drug use and naloxone. These programs serve an essential role in HIV and Hepatitis prevention, yet the environment of safety they create for people who use drugs set them
up to offer far more including; on-site Medication for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD), wound care;
drop-in centers; street based outreach; food access; mental health crisis respite; disposal of sterile syringes and injection equipment; vaccination, testing, and linkage to care and treatment for
infectious diseases including COVID-19. The drop-in centers would ideally be co-located with an
Opioid Treatment Program (OTP), and include a peer-run mental health crisis respite center and
on-demand access to medication assisted treatment.
Background & Context – Fund a community syringe disposal program.
Proper disposal of medical waste, such as sharps (e.g., needles and syringes), is equally important in community settings as in healthcare facilities, especially for those that traditional healthcare is inaccessible. Community members use needles and syringes to treat medical conditions,
like diabetes, or for safe injection drug use;1 in 12 american households utilize sharps for medical purposes. Improper disposal can result in exposure to blood-borne diseases, such as HBV,
HCV, or HIV, through accidental needlestick injuries. Community members, the general public,
and public service workers (e.g., waste haulers, recycling plant workers, sewage treatment workers) are at higher risk of experiencing an accidental needlestick injury when used needles are improperly disposed of. Therefore the City should invest in a robust community sharp disposal
program by establishing non-traditional disposal sites such as, parks, homeless encampments and shelters, public restrooms, street corners, pre-established sites, etc. Additionally, disposal sites would be established at all Community Health Centers, where people
would be able to access additional medical, behavioral, or social services.
Background & Context -Creating Trauma-Informed Systems to support community and
The health impacts of trauma are widely recognized and range from long term chronic illness
to physical injury to behavioral and mental health challenges. The Public Health Reinvestments
Work Group recommends that the City of Austin invest in developing a Trauma Informed assessment process for all programs and ongoing training on Trauma Informed Care for all
staff of Austin Public Health.
Trauma is defined by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
as “an event, series of events or set of circumstances that are experienced by an individual or
community as physically and/or emotionally harmful or threatening and has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s or community’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional and/
or spiritual well being.” This trauma can be cultural, historical and intergenerational as well.
When survivors of trauma seek health care services, interactions with staff, doctors, as well
as the overarching medical and legal system can be distressing or further traumatizing. Sites
of trauma in medical establishments include invasive procedures, the use of stigmatizing language, overt and covert racism, anti-blackness, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia, among
many other harmful if not fatal forces. Understanding the connections between trauma, health
outcomes and patient behavior is essential for public health systems to address health inequities and mitigate the harm of oppressive systems like excessive policing.
Health systems can contribute to trauma for their clients and their staff if not addressed. Trauma-informed systems “support reflection in place of reaction, curiosity in lieu of numbing, selfcare instead of self-sacrifice and collective impact rather than siloed structures.” The responsibility of preventing burnout, healing vicarious trauma, and having job satisfaction does not fall
(only) on the individual staff person. In trauma-informed systems, organizations recognize that
staff are also survivors of trauma, engage staff in ways to create safe and supportive work environments and prioritize staff wellness.
There is a robust framework for Trauma Informed Care developed by SAMHSA that can be
leveraged to improve the policies and protocols of Austin Public Health. This framework of six
principles: safety, trustworthiness and transparency, peer support, collaboration and mutuality,
empowerment voice and choice, and a cultural, historical and gender analysis, can serve as the
foundation of an assessment tool for trauma informed practice at every level of Austin Public
To develop this tool and establish an ongoing process of quality improvement for trauma informed care, this Work Group recommends the creation of an advisory group of subject matter
experts and directly impacted community members to develop a process for implementing an
assessment. This assessment should evaluate, among other things, the extent to which client
populations namely people of color, LGBTQIA+, people with disabilities are reflected in staff, in
particular among management decision makers and how this affects front line staff and clients.
Once an assessment tool has been developed the advisory group will provide more detailed recommendations entailing specific and timely interventions in protocols and policy to re-orient the
practices and services of Austin Public Health into alignment with the principles of Trauma-Informed Care.
A one-time training will not be sufficient to transform systems that were not designed with survivors in mind. Ongoing training on Trauma-informed Care and healing centered engagement will
be an essential component of this systems change work. It will provide the public health workforce an opportunity to transform the models of service delivery, prioritize care for the providers
and build meaningful community partnerships that will make public health efforts more equitable and effective.
Background & Context – Build affordable housing and implement rent control ordinances
As a working group, we identify the unavailability of affordable housing as a public health crisis.
How can our community and our people even begin to consider other public health initiatives
when we have such a large population currently experiencing homelessness? When people are
without housing, their environments are unreliable and unstable. Food insecurity, little to no
medical care, and few mental health support services, all compounded by an ongoing pandemic
are but a sliver of the experiences of people living without permanent housing. We must prioritize getting people into housing first. Once a stable housing situation has been achieved, adjustment can take place, people can transition into a continuous sensation of stability and services
can then be provided to support their needs moving forward to ensure housing can be long-lasting and future crises can be avoided.
Housing First is a homeless assistance approach rooted in harm reduction that prioritizes providing permanent housing to people experiencing homelessness. A Housing First approach does
not require participants to address behavioral health or mandate participation in services either
before obtaining housing or in order to retain housing. Housing First is based on the theory
that participant choice is valuable in housing selection and supportive service participation, and
that exercising that choice is likely to make a participant more successful in remaining housed
and improving their life. Such a program views housing as the foundation for life improvement
and enables access to permanent housing without prerequisites or conditions beyond those of
a typical renter. Additionally, formal and informal supportive services are a part of the Housing
First model, such as, community health workers, physicians, social workers, harm reduction programs, family, friends, and community.
We don’t need any more transitional housing and promises to get people off of waitlists. Transitional housing is no longer transitional when there are no structures ready to actually permanently house people who are experiencing homelessness. It is only temporary and does nothing
to solve the problem other than give this City the cover and presentation that anything is actually being done to address homelessness. This City needs permanent housing that is low-cost and
prioritized to be given to people that are currently homeless and have been put on waitlists to
wait upwards of four years.
This workgroup additionally recognizes that the gentrification in Austin has been picking up at an
alarming rate. Many people who have lived here for years, for their whole lives, are losing their
homes and are being displaced as the housing market skyrockets and makes homes unaffordable. This is unacceptable. We must protect the wellbeing and stability of our communities and
their homes and respect all the work and efforts they have put into the care and love for their
communities. It can be unbelievably devastating to be displaced and feel like everything has
been lost, generating extreme levels of stress or even trauma especially for the Black and brown
communities being displaced in efforts to bring White investment and business opportunities.
We call for the City to adopt a rent control initiative in which the Equity Office would appoint a
Rent Guidelines Board that includes several directly impacted community members that would
develop housing market informed ceiling rent rates based on size and style of housing.
When a tenant leaves, the landlord will only be able to raise rent to this limit set and can additionally only be raised by a set percentage between 0% and 4.5% a year which would be determined through a vote on the Rent Guidelines Board.
However, if a resident has been living in their dwelling and renting consistently since 1980, the
rent should not exceed a “maximum base rent” determined by the Rent Guidelines Board proposed guidelines (which can be appealed by residents) that should only cover the landlord’s cost
for upkeep of the unit. Rent from this maximum base rent will only increase incrementally also
based on the recommendation of the Rent Guidelines Board.
Background & Context – Promote Youth Development
The best approach for healthy growth and development of young people is to shore up
strengths rather than focus on fixing problems, a framework called “Positive Youth Development” (PYD). Effective PYD programs are located within a young person’s community and use a
comprehensive approach that centers on significant areas in a youth’s life, such as education,
art, and leadership. For instance, for youth who may be making choices that get them in trouble, the most effective intervention for both public safety and positive youth outcomes is to help
them take responsibility for their actions, provide opportunities to restore any harm done, engage with pro-social peers, and stay connected to community support.
Background & Context – Make Cap Metro free for low-income residents and expand programs that provide transportation for health care access
Transportation was consistently cited as a major obstacle for people accessing healthcare. In the
CTSA, residents and professionals discussed this migration, noting that historically underserved
and low-income Black/African American and Latino/Hispanic residents’ displacement into more
affordable areas outside of central Austin with less access to affordable health care, healthy food
retailers, outdoor recreation space, and means of transportation is significant.
Background & Context – Expand coverage of the MAP program and include MAP users and
potential users in the process for deciding what is covered.
Texans have long suffered under the rule of a state government that chooses politics over public health. Without Medicaid expansion, in 2017 ¼ of Travis County residents were uninsured.
Although some Travis County Residents qualify for the Medical Access Program (MAP), only a
limited number of medications and providers are covered, leaving many without the healthcare
that they need. What is covered by MAP should be decided on with input from MAP users. Under
the Biden Administration, there have been rumors circulating that counties will be allowed to
expand Medicaid on a county-by-county basis.
Recommendations – Community Health Workers (CHWs)
1. Fund a Community health worker Pilot program to hire 50 CHW
a. $4 million for Year 1 (50 CHW)
b. $500,000 for evaluation of pilot program
2. Establish a CHW Network and Training and certification Hub
a. $4 million
b. Recruitment and retention
c. Translation and interpretation
3. Commit to build a cohort of 1,000 CHW by 2025.
a. Specifically serving the Eastern Crescent and communities currently suffering
b. See the Biden-Harris National Strategy for COVID-19 as reference for these kinds of
goals: “As part of the President’s commitment to provide 100,000 COVID-19 contact
tracers, community health workers, and public health nurses, the Administration
will establish a U.S. Public Health Jobs Corps, provide support for community health
workers, and mobilize Americans to support communities most at-risk”
c. $70 million
In partnership with Travis County, Central Health, and Dell Medicine open Community
Health Centers offering low-cost and sliding scale integrated care clinics serving as home
bases for a Community Health Worker workforce.
This is a powerful step towards investment in equitable community-led Community
Health infrastructure.
1. Community Health Centers
a. Health promotion activities
i. Exercise
ii. Mindfulness
iii. Support groups
iv. Meeting space for community events
b. Clinical services
i. Rapid testing
ii. Triage
iii. Preventative care
iv. Mental health counseling
c. Medical supply closet (free/low cost)
i. Free clean syringes
ii. Sharps disposal
iii. Over the counter pharmaceuticals
d. Food pantry
i. Land to grow food – stipend for caretakers
ii. Partnerships with local growers and wholesalers
e. Commercially licensed kitchen
i. For small businesses to use
ii. Hot meals distribution
f. Filtered water filling station
g. Solar powered
h. Transportation
i. At least one van
1. Community Health Workers,
a. Staff community centers
b. Health promotion
c. Home visits
Recommendations – Community Health Centers
Open five Community Health Center located in strategic locations concentrated in the Easter
Crescent of Austin to combat and counteract the systemic violence, over policing, and targeted
gentrification of the communities living here.
a. Cost will depend on City’ decision to build new centers, co-located with existing recreational facilities, or repurpose recently closed school facilities.
1. Develop a contract with Dell Medical School, Travis County, and/or Central Health to fund
and support rotating teams of primary care physicians and nurses (students as well) to
open appointment slots for care for a duration of at least two weeks per month at each
2. Set up non-city staff facility managers, preferably community organizers and members to
facilitate and coordinate organizations to use the space for targeted outreach with vulnerable populations.
3. Arrange for the offering of health promotion activities such as exercise, mindfulness, and
support groups.
4. Build a water filtering station where local residents can get filtered water for free to fill
containers with and take home.
5. Provide at least one large passenger van per facility to allow for transportation to and
from services for residents in the area
Recommendation – Low-Cost Medical Supply Closets
House one community medical supply closet per Community Health Center and fully stock them
with supplies
a.) $250,000 per closet
1.) Hire 3 people per closet that are from the communities where these are placed that are
unemployed and pay them a living wage.
2.) Plan to expand and continue to build and stock these closets annually
a.) Recurring pot of $500,000
Recommendation – Food pantry
Expected cost of $3 million for five commercial kitchen facilities co-located in Community Health
Recommendation – Mental Health Services
1. Hire 50 clinicians that are members of these populations within an arm or department of
Austin Public Health.
a. $2.5 million for salaries and benefits
2. Open city-funded slots for both long and short term care for visits with each clinician. Visits should be sliding scale from $0 to $30 and should not impact compensation for clinicians.
a. Since clinicians are already being paid, there should not be an associated cost for
opening slots.
3. Clinician offices should be placed within Community Health Centers, where clinicians will
be able to accommodate both office visits and telehealth calls.
Recommendations – Renewable Energy Investment
1. Build at least three new Community Solar facilities
a. $250,000 for all three (installation typical runs about $50,000 per facility)
2. Create teams to do community outreach and case management to connect residents to
a. $100,000 for compensation and materials
Expected costs for all of the above Community Health Center recommendations:
$15 million per center
Additional Recommendations:
1. Open two additional OTP (co-located with a harm reduction drop-in center) in Travis county in order to address the need for MAT + staff
a. $4 million for startup costs and first year of operations
2. Fund person-centered methadone treatment
a. $3 million/year
1. Open two additional drop-in centers, one center on the south side and one on the
northside (co-located with an OTP)
a. $3 million for startup costs and first year of operations
b. $3 million/year
1. Establish 40 disposal sites across Travis County for safe disposal of sharps.
a. $500,000/year (includes all administrative and disposal costs)
2. Ensure that five of these sites are co-located with Community Health Centers proposed
1. Develop Trauma-Informed Practice assessment process and tool
a. Funding to convene an advisory group of subject matter experts and community
members to create the assessment tool and the implementation process
b. Build Trauma Informed Practice into the quality improvement plans of all APH programs.
c. $500,000
2. Establish a fund for ongoing training on Trauma Informed Care and Healing Centered
a. Begin with clinicians, community health workers and other outreach workers –
b. Make training available to new staff as well as ongoing training for all staff that consistently evolve to evaluate current practices, cultural context, and changing community needs.
c. Ensure training available in multiple languages as needed by staff.
d. $2 million
1. Build new buildings to house people
a. $20 million for 30 100-unit buildings
2. Work with organizations that work directly with people experiencing homelessness to
coordinate entry into housing (Not ECHO, not Downtown Alliance)
a. Additional labor compensation/organizational management costs
i. $5,000 per organization
3. Provide wrap around services inside the new housing complexes with case managers and
trauma-informed teams that can support transition into being housed, job searching, and
housing searches. Each resident will receive a three year period from enrollment where
no rent is covered.
a. 9 staff, including 7 caseworkers and 2 administrative and property management
per building
i. $10 million for salaries and benefits annually
4. Residents will then have an additional five years where they can continue to live in
city-provided housing for low-cost ($200-300 rent maximum) and will only be asked to exit
lease if a job has been secured and worked for 6 months at that point AND housing has
been identified that their case manager has deemed will be sustainable with current income. Otherwise they will be granted an extension until these conditions have been met.
5. Residents will also be granted $1,000 upon exit to support the secondary transition stage
and support costs associated with moving.
a. Fund of $3 million/year
1.) Expand MetroAccess to meet the needs of the community and lower barriers to access.
The City should buy CapMetro 10-15 additional buses for this purpose, hire drivers, and
aim to eliminate the MetroAccess waitlist.
2.) Any and all MAP/Medicare/Medicaid/TANF benefit recipients should be automatically
granted free monthly bus passes every month initially provided upon benefits enrollment.
All current recipients should get a pass mailed every month.
3.) We urge the City to work with Travis County to develop a local Medicaid expansion program.
R e i m a g i n i n g 9 1 1 a n d N o n – P o l i c e C r i s i s R e s p o n s e
Wo r ki n g G ro u p
Developing a deeper understanding of the needs of people who call 911 to develop recommendations to best address those needs including transitioning 9-1-1 communications from APD to
independent or alternate City department management and reimagining a new response system
which diverts 9-1-1 calls that come that do not warrant a police response to a non-police crisis
line and response team similar to other models other cities.
Kathy Mitchell:
Cate Graziani:
Priscilla Hale – RPS Task Force Member
Jessica Johnson – RPS Task Force Member
Chas Moore – RPS Task Force Member
Sue Gabriel – RPS Task Force Member
Chris Harris – RPS Task Force Member
Cary Roberts – RPS Task Force Member
Rodney Saenz – RPS Task Force Member
Cate Graziani – RPS Task Force Member
Hailey Easley – RPS Task Force Member
Kristen Lenau – RPS Task Force Member
Kathy Mitchell – RPS Task Force Member
Dawn Handley – RPS Task Force Member
Matt Simpson – RPS Task Force Member
Jen Margulies – Community Member
K. Stellar Dutcher – Community Member
Rachael Shannon – Community Member
Hilda Gutierrez – Community Member
Background & Context
Over the last two decades, sworn officers of the Austin Police Department have killed 28 people
Collective Care is The Future
Artwork by Angela Faz
Sourced from Amplifier Art
of color and injured many others.
In many neighborhoods and communities across our city, a phone call for emergency help of
any kind has become a dangerous risk. Black people, Indigenous people, Latinx people and other people of color in Austin face grim calculations when calling for help, along with immigrants,
young people, sex workers, people with mental health crises and their families, people with developmental disabilities and their families, LGBTQ+ people, and survivors of sexual violence and
intimate partner violence. Our city as a whole is less safe because many people in Austin cannot
count on safe help when they need it.
For far too many Austinites, calling for help requires weighing whether making the call will ultimately do more harm than good. True public safety means investing in responses that don’t
put residents at risk. The Reimagining Public Safety process is an opportunity to create systems
of care during emergency and crisis situations that provide help without requiring community
members to risk their lives or their freedom.
The Reimagining 911 and Non-Police Crisis Response workgroup, made up of representatives
from affected communities and concerned community members, presents recommendations
centering on the following:
1. Diversion of majority of 911 calls away from police and towards appropriate first
• Increased capacity for mental health responders
• Training for 911 dispatchers
2. Non-police crisis line and community response team
3. Culturally and linguistically appropriate communication in emergency response
• Culturally and linguistically appropriate outreach
• Outreach on when and how to call for help
4. Ongoing community accountability and evaluation
These recommendations are rooted in the values of the RPS Task Force. Grounded in the historical context of policing in the U.S. and in Austin, the Reimagining 911 and Non-Police Crisis Response Work Group (hereinafter the 911 Workgroup) acknowledges that holistic community safety
is distinct from policing and should be defined by directly impacted communities. As such, our recommendations include divesting from systems that cause harm, developing or supporting existing
crisis response networks that are truly accessible to all community members, and that arise from
and center those most directly harmed by existing systems. Our recommendations also support
sustainability and long-term thinking in suggesting full and permanent funding for equitable crisis
response networks and planning for long-term accountability to community.
The 911 Workgroup acknowledges that the task of the uncompensated members of the work
group has truly been larger than the timeframe permitted. Winter storm Uri and the ensuing
infrastructure crisis further limited community input, in particular because many of the work
group members were, and still are, responding to the continuing needs of community members
dealing with long-term effects of the storm. Community members most disparately affected
by police violence have been disparately affected by aftereffects of the storm as well, further
complicating efforts to gain detailed and crucial community input. Accordingly, we would like to
emphasize the need for ongoing input from various affected communities as the process moves
forward. Stipends and translation support from the City will be necessary to garner the community input needed to shape implementation of these recommendations.
These recommendations also reflect the understanding of the work group that the decoupling
of 911 from the Austin Police Department is currently underway. Although the work group is
not apprised of the status of progress towards this goal, the work group strongly supports this
A. Divert Majority of 911 Calls away from Police and towards Appropriate First Responders
1. Establish a fully funded mental health first response and remove any structural barriers that prevent community access to mental health first response independent
from police.
Why: APD leads in police shootings during mental health calls
When people call 911 they should be (and are now) given the following options: EMS, Fire,
Mental Health, Police. However, non-police mental health “first response” is currently only
available in situations deemed appropriate for phone counseling. Currently, there are limitations on the types of calls that mental health first responders can respond to, specifically regarding calls that involve substance use, use of a weapon, harm to self or others, and
calls that involve crime. We must enable mental health responders to actually respond
to the types of calls that have previously ended in the death of the person experiencing a
crisis, and ensure adequate funding to ensure that trained staff can respond 24/7.
A determination of the appropriateness of police intervention should be made by the
community member requesting assistance in conjunction with the mental health first responder, not by the dispatcher. Policies regarding when mental health professionals can
respond to 911 calls need to be reviewed and revised through a transparent community
process and dispatchers should be trained accordingly. In addition, call takers need to be
adequately trained on mental health issues, both broadly speaking to enhance their general knowledge and in the context of a 911 call, so they can better recognize, interact and
route the call.
Mental health first response teams must be able to respond to mental health crises without police and use police backup as a last resort. Response teams would consist of a
medic, & crisis worker and peer/community health worker. The team must be equipped to
respond during crisis moments including COVID-19 and severe weather. The team should
be provided with appropriate equipment such as vehicles to ensure ability to service all
areas of the city.
2. 911 operators and first responders should receive appropriate training with an
emphasis on prioritizing the response to and need for mental health services over
responding to nonviolent criminal behavior.
Why: APD leads in police shootings during mental health calls
In order to ensure that when someone asks for the mental health option, they get a men-
tal health clinician, training for 911 call operators must go beyond Mental Health First Aid.
Although training can only go so far, in order to combat systemic racism and ensure to the
best of our ability that call takers do not make fatal decisions based on racist ideas of danger, all call takers must undergo training on anti-racism, that includes examples of racism
in a 911 call center, and regular anti-racism supervision. In addition, call takers need to be
adequately trained on mental health issues, both broadly speaking to enhance their general knowledge and in the context of a 911 call, so they can better recognize, interact and
route the call.
First responders need training to approach all situations with a mindset towards helping
community members and addressing unmet needs rather than towards punishment.
While police officers should not be responding to requests for mental health services, they
should receive training directly from mental health professionals beyond the CIT training.
B. Fund Non-Police Crisis Line and Community Response Team
3.The City should fund a community-run non-police first response outside of the 911
system. This service should also include a community-led resource line and respond
to situations that do not appear to require a mental health response (loud music,
blocked driveways, etc). Police should not be the entity to respond to non-criminal,
quality of life complaints, or to other situations that have been decriminalized in
this community.
Why: According to an Austin Justice Coalition report released in July 2020 regarding 911
calls, only 21% of 911 calls pertain to crime. Creating this community resource signifies a
pathway to respond and address a host of other community needs without overreliance
on police. Calls for service that are unrelated to crime are best served by a civilian community response.
Learning from cities across the country, such as Sacramento, CA, the City should fund a
program similar to the MH First program led by community groups most impacted by
police violence. MH First is an independent crisis response service, staffed by a team of
volunteers trained to de-escalate confrontations and provide direct aid and resources to
those experiencing potentially life-threatening psychological issues and other instances
of crisis. According to Cat Brooks, one of its founders, the Anti Police-Terror Project developed the program “because large swaths of the Black and brown community are reluctant
to call 911, “no matter how great the emergency.” The purpose of the MH First program “
is to interrupt and eliminate the need for law enforcement in mental health crisis first response by providing mobile peer support, de-escalation assistance, and non-punitive and
life-affirming interventions; therefore decriminalizing emotional and psychological crises
and decreasing the stigma around mental health, substance use, and domestic violence,
while also addressing their root causes: white supremacy, capitalism, and colonialism.”
Currently this service exists in Austin through 10,000 Fearless First Responders and
we recommend that the city should fully resource this group and others like it to
allow them to be self-sufficient, autonomous and able to be sustained. 10,000 Fearless First Responders also provides assistance with non-crisis and non-crime situations
that should not be handled by police. Funds for the creation of this will come from the
Reimagine Public Safety Fund. This initiative would be in addition to non-police mental
health first response through 911 (Recommendation #1). We anticipate the budget would
be about $2 million annually.
C. Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Communication in Emergency Response
4. Ensure language access for residents with Limited English Proficiency in all
emergency response call centers.
a. Establish a standardized language access procedure used by all emergency
response for callers with Limited English Proficiency (LEP).
b. Provide culturally and linguistically appropriate outreach and education to
ensure the community understands the process and know how to use the
c. Call takers must undergo community based cultural competency training and
regular refresher training for working with communities with Limited English
d. Text messaging should be added as an option for accessing emergency response.
Why: Asian immigrant communities in Travis county avoid using 911 for emergency response services because they do not speak English and are unfamiliar with the calling
procedures. Reports of being hung up on after speaking in languages other than English
and Spanish may have been because individuals with LEP didn’t know that the operator
was connecting to a translator. Austin Asian Community Health Initiative (AACHI) has
requested a copy of the procedure from the department to provide community education
to enable the Asian and Asian American communities with Limited English Proficiency to
access emergency response services, but the request was denied.
5. The City should undertake a multilingual public education campaign to raise awareness regarding appropriate emergency service use.
Why: Overreliance on police to respond to crises has lead to the murder of many Austin
community members such as Mike Ramos and David Joseph. Austinites should be
educated on the various emergency services available to them as well as how they
work. Austinites should also be aware of the process for language interpretation when
they call 911.
D. Ongoing Community Accountability and Evaluation
7. The City of Austin should Conduct a regular and ongoing independent audit (annual, bi-annual, etc.) of emergency response calls and a linguistically and culturally
accessible community survey requesting residents’ opinion regarding the effectiveness of emergency response calls.
a. Language access is a key factor in providing equitable, accessible emergency
and crisis response. For example, Asian American communities with LEP often
report dissatisfaction with interpretation/translation services provided by
community resources. Inaccurate or inadequate interpretation/translation
may create life threatening misunderstandings. Regular feedback ensures
quality language access.
b. Audits should also include the number of calls diverted away from police, incidents of police violence in non-crime crisis calls, and the number of calls to
non-police crisis resources. The community-based evaluation should engage
a broad range of Austin residents, with a focus on communities most affected by police violence and state intervention, in providing feedback on how
first response programs are working for them. The evaluation should seek
feedback on perceptions and experiences of emergency/crisis responses and
should provide community participants with compensation for their time.
Why: Ongoing evaluation of emergency response services is necessary to ensure that the
reimagined systems align with the intention of making crisis response safer, more accessible, and more equitable. Community members who have been most directly affected by
police violence are the most knowledgeable sources about whether reimagined systems
are improving lived conditions in the city. The city must develop sustainable processes
that will ensure ongoing community accountability over the long term.
8. In order to engender community trust in the city’s “Reimagining Public Safety” process- the city should:
1) not return any of the “Reimagining” or “Decoupling” funds to APD.
2) follow the RPS taskforce recommendation and not fund an APD cadet class,
3) invest the full amount of the “Reimagining” city funds towards holistic community safety recommendations of the taskforce working groups IN this
year’s budget.
Only with these displays of commitment by the city, do we recommend a second
phase of Reimagining Public Safety that allows for transparent and thoughtful community input in creating a Reimagining Public Safety Plan that leads towards effective results for systemic change.
Why: “The timeline for an authentic, thoughtful reorganization process is much longer than 6-8
months. The structural inequities that are foundational to American society are often replicated
in policing practices. A divestment of resources from ineffective policing practices to community
safety policies and actions that result in more safety for the greatest number of people is our
ultimate aim. Bearing that in mind, we must be steadfast in valuing accountability, transparency, efficiency, and humanity.
The process of reimagining public safety and re-envisioning how resources are used to provide
for the public’s safety are long term projects. These processes should not be rushed to suit political aims or be held to election timelines. Rather, the timeline set for [Austin’s] process should
be based on National best-practices and historical evidence of other [Austin]-based transition
processes where personnel and budgets were re-programmed.” Quotes are sourced from
Oakland’s Reimagining Public Safety Taskforce Recommendations.
9. Recommendation: The City must “invest in and expand community leadership development to guide public safety initiatives.” Source
Why: “The timeline for an authentic, thoughtful reorganization process is much longer than 6-8
months. The process of reimagining public safety and re-envisioning how resources are used
to provide for the public’s safety are long term projects (Source: Oakland’s Reimaginging Public Safety Taskforce Recommendations).” Our current system of “public safety” is rooted in
systemic oppression established over hundreds of years. Truly reimagining public safety
change will require ongoing cultural/ideological shifting over time, so there should be ongoing input from and accountability to the community to ensure a true reimagination of
public safety. In order to ensure that the communities most impacted by systems and ideologies of oppression are able to offer their expertise, the City must commit to investing
in community leaders. This may include funding education and training, compensation for
participation, childcare, transportation, interpretation/translation services, etc. The OPO
currently has a Community Police Review Commission and Public Safety Commission, but
their eligibility, application, time commitment requirements, and selection process are
10. The City should budget a role for the Equity Office in assessing plans for and implementation of non-police crisis response.
Why: It’s essential that non-police crisis response fully serves Black people, Latino people,
other people of color and other other communities in Austin (people with mental health
issues, undocumented people, and sex workers, for example) who have suffered disparate impact from crisis response that relies on armed officers. The Equity Office, with a
focus on advancing equity in all aspects of City operations and experience in conducting
equity assessments, is well positioned to assess how equitably non-police crisis response
will serve various populations in Austin.
Additional Data and Supporting Material (Optional as Needed)
• Safety Beyond Policing:Promoting Care over Criminalization
• Los Angeles Alternative Response Flowchart
• Edmonton 24/7 Crisis Intervention Report Video
U p ro o t i n g P u n i t i v e a n d H a r m C u l t u r e i n I n t e r s e c t i n g
Systems Working Group
Assessing the ways punitive culture directs public safety efforts and developing recommendations and processes for their deconstruction and replacement.
David Johnson:
Sue Gabriel
Dana Reichman
Maya Pilgrim
Bethany Carlson
Brion Oaks
David Johnson
Background & Context
The punitive nature of American culture runs deep.
We seek to solve many issues around safety and the
need to comply with laws and ordinances through
fines, detention, incarceration and violence. Austin is
no exception.
“We want to be the most livable city in the country.”
– Vision statement, City of Austin
“Austin’s greatest asset is its people…”
– Vision for Austin’s Future
“…Austin is a beacon of sustainability, social equity, and economic opportunity; where diversity and creativity are celebrated; where community needs and values are recognized;
where leadership comes from its citizens, and where the necessities of life are affordable
and accessible to all.”
– Vision for Austin’s Future
In response to the public declarations above, we – the people of the City of Austin – are left with
many questions:
• Sustainable for whom?
• Socially equitable for whom?
Nashville Youth Poet Laureate
2019 Youth Poet Laureate Series
Artwork by Mer Young
Sourced from Amplifier Art
• Economic opportunities for whom?
• Where is diversity and creativity celebrated and how?
• What community needs and values are recognized, and by whom?
• What kind of leadership comes from its citizens?
• How will Austin insure that the “necessities of life are affordable and accessible for all”
since it has failed miserably thus far?
• In 2018, according to the Austin Chamber of Commerce, Austin’s Median household
income was $76,925 and its Median Family Income was $94,617. The National Assoc. of Realtors estimated the 2018 median home price in Austin to be $295,800.
If the median home price has spiked 66% over three years to 491K, then where is
the 66% increase in median family and median household incomes?
“To be the best managed city in the country.”
– Mission statement, City of Austin
Our city council and the City Managers have proven to be easily swayed from their commitments
and our values. Recently, the council betrayed the trust of this task force and city by agreeing to
a new cadet class against our unified recommendation.
How is this reimagined if you ignore the people that you have tasked with the very process of reimagining your failed system?
Our proposal is to operationalize the Guiding Values of the Reimagining Public Safety Task
Force, in order to create a process for the City of Austin to evaluate city initiatives for
equity, potential harm, and holistic safety. We seek to apply this process to any system
and mechanism in the space of public safety with the potential to cause harm and/or save
lives. Our goal is to disrupt and deconstruct the pattern of punitive culture within public
safety, in order to build a public safety system that is liberating, supporting, and holistic
in achieving community safety. This process should be piloted with the recommendations
of the Reimagine Public Safety Task Force based on the initial framework developed by
our working group.
• The city should increase funding to the Equity Office by $1 Million immediately, using divested funds, to develop the validating tool, expand the Equity Office staff sufficiently to
implement this process on an ongoing basis. This funding increase is a start. We must
make our investments reflect our commitments.
• Any item that comes up on the city council agenda is subject to review by the Equity Office
through this process and can choose which items it wishes to review. The intent is that the
Equity Office would prioritize Reimagine public safety proposals, policing (including the
APD budget and contract), public health, housing and economic development.
• The Equity Office must be given 30 days prior to when the item is placed on the agenda to
review any item it notifies Council that it wishes to review. The Equity Office review would
then be attached to the agenda item when it is posted.
• An Equity Office representative must be given space to present the results of the equity
review as testimony to the City Council during the scheduled meeting prior to public testimony on the item.
The validating tool will be built upon the following framework:
Step 1
Be Rooted in History and Shared Understanding – Complete a historical analysis in the
context of systemic racism. Is this project connected to a system that was intentionally
created to perpetuate the harm and oppression of one group for the benefit of another
and of capitol? What is the impact and legacy of policies, practices, procedures and key
Step 2
Center Those Most Directly Harmed by Systems – Gather data disaggregated by demographics to tell you who is most harmed or negatively impacted. Analyze data to also tell
you who has benefited
Step 3
Initiate an Accessible and Co-Creative Process for Community Involvement – Center
those most directly harmed by systems by committing to a process to collaborate, problem solve and design with the community. This process should be accessible and transparent and can be achieved by ensuring lagangue access services, digital access, stipends,
and other efforts to remove barriers for participation.
Step 4
Be Holistic and Tackle Root Cause – What are we trying to problem solve for? How do
we follow the leadership of those most directly impacted by punitive and harmful systems
to clearly frame and develop the shared understanding of the problem? Conduct a root
cause analysis and identify holistic options and multiple solutions that can achieve the
desired outcome.
Step 5
Divest From Systems that Cause Harm – Analyze the project or program for unintended
negative impact and outcomes for those most directly harmed. Has the community been
engaged at a deep and meaningful level to help identify these unintended consequences?
Has modeling been conducted to see routes of potential negative outcomes with solutions
and strategies developed?
Step 6
Establish Community Accountability – How will you ensure accountability, communicate, and evaluate results? Does this project represent sustainability and long-term thinking? Is it framed to just mitigate harm or will it promote equity and make those historically
most harmed better off?
Questions that must be answered by the Equity Office’s review process are:
• What are the top challenges/barriers we encounter to deliver the services or deploy
specific resources?
• Does the proposal demonstrate program design and delivery that directly addresses the top challenges/barriers you identified?
• What does the data tell us about who’s most vulnerable and at-risk for this service
or need?
• Is the program design intentional enough to directly get resources to those most in
• Are data disaggregated by race and geography available, and are you utilizing those
• Were people with lived experience and those directly impacted a part of your program design?
• Do you have a mechanism to get consistent feedback from clients on the customer
experience to course correct as necessary? (This tells us if the vendor really understands the needs of the community and the nuances in what’s needed to make sure
the services effectively benefit those who need it)
• Who already has access, is overserved, or benefits?
• What does the personnel for the delivery of the services look like?
• Are they competent in connecting to the populations as highest risk?
• Do they have community relationships and are truly able to navigate to get to those
most in need?
• What are some unintended consequences for this proposal? (Example: masks arerecommended, but what does this mean for Black men already the subject of state
surveillance, suspicion, and violence?)
• Are there existing negative outcomes or disparities that exist for the populations
that will be impacted by the proposed goals or process in this proposal?
• What are the outcomes you intend to create or impact with this proposal or process?
Additional Data and Supporting Material (Optional as Needed)
S e r v i c e s f o r S u r v i v o r s o f Vi o l e n c e a n d Vi o l e n c e P r e v e n t i o n
Wo r ki n g G ro u p
Exploring opportunities to improve services to survivors of violence both within and outside of
APD. So few survivors report their abuse to law enforcement yet so much of the resources to
mitigate violence are funneled through that department. We hope to explore ways that victims/
survivors can access these resources.
Amanda Lewis
Work Group Members
Aja Gair – SAFE
Kachina Clark – APD Victim Services
Tricia Forbes – Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice
Courtney Santana – Survive2Thrive
Jenny Black – SANE nurse
Farah Muscadin – Director of OPO
Neva Fernandez – Victim Services Manager DA’s
Jen Margulies – Undoing White Supremacy Austin
Shelli Egger – Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, Gun Violence Task Force and Family Violence Task Force
Eloise Sepeda – Mission Capital, Formerly Refugee
Services of Texas
Emily LeBlanc – CASA of Travis County
Julie Sweeney – County Attorney’s Office, DVHRT
Noor ZK – Sex Worker Outreach Project of Austin
Connie Geerhart – APD Victim Services
Amanda Michelle Lewis – Survivor Justice Project
Deepika Modali – Asian Family Support Services of Austin
Angel Carroll – MEASURE
Maggy McGiffert – UTMB Center for Violence Prevention
Power to the Polls
Artwork by Raychelle Duazo
Sourced from Amplifier Art
Guiding Working Group Values
• Victims/Survivor – We define survivors of violence as communities, families, and individuals who have been impacted by violence, including those accused of harm.
• Healing Justice – We believe that all survivors of violence and their families should have
the opportunity to heal in any way that feels right for them.
• According to Cara Page, healing Justice is a framework that identifies how we can holistically respond to and intervene on generational trauma and violence and to bring
collective practices that can impact and transform the consequences of oppression on
our bodies, hearts and minds. Healing resources must be decentralized and increased
to meet the diverse needs in Austin. Right now, many people who experience harm
have very few options that don’t require police reports. Austin should consider creating a collective care/ healing justice strategy with the support of national TA providers.
• Non-profit and systems accountability outside of the Criminal Legal System – We
know that white supremacy impacts service delivery; organizations that receive city funds,
especially through the reimagining process, should undergo an equity assessment process along with continuous equity analysis. Only programs by and for specific communities should be funded to do community-specific work.
• Universal Precautions for Trauma – We understand that trauma and harm are widespread; we should act in ways that recognize that anyone we engage with can potentially
be victims/survivors of harm.
• Anti-racism work is anti-violence work – Culturally-affirming programs and organizations are not only vital for healing but are essential for the prevention of harm and violence. Different forms of oppression are at the root of violence; we cannot end violence
without ending oppression.
Note: The recommendations that follow are initial recommendations. The SSVVP Workgroup
acknowledges that fully reimagining how our city creates safety for survivors of violence and prevents future violence requires more than a matter of months. This is especially true when taking
seriously the charge to work in concert with full input from community members. We recommend that additional time and funding be dedicated to the process of more fully developing and
planning implementation of these initial recommendations.
Community Based
Note: The SSVVP Workgroup is aware that much of the public conversation about Reimagining
Public Safety and victims of violence has centered on the possibility of decoupling Victim Services
and APD. The Workgroup’s recommendations on that matter may be found in the Internal City
of Austin section of this document. However, the Workgroup strongly recommends that the City
think more broadly about services to victims and survivors in Austin, and understand that Victim
Services as currently configured is only one piece of a larger pie. Rather than trying to divide up
that one slice even further among resources within and outside of the criminal legal system, the
City should expand the entire pool of funding available for survivor healing, and for the restoration and repair of harm. Our recommendations include significant amounts of funding being
dedicated to resources outside of the criminal legal system without any reduction of funding to
existing Victim Services.
The SSVVP Workgroup acknowledges that the generational violence and community harm
caused by our current system of policing means that there are vast numbers of people in Austin
who cannot and will not access the criminal legal system for remedies. Accordingly, the SSVVP
Workgroup recommends that the City fund a proliferation of community based services that give
people who are not going to access the criminal legal system supportive places to turn. We recommend that these funds be drawn from the harmful systems of policing identified for divestment by the Patrol and Surveillance workgroup. These community based services should be fully
funded and resourced, culturally responsive, located throughout the city, and have full language
and ability accessibility and staff who are paid livable wages with benefits.
The SSVVP Workgroup envisions this proliferation of community options as a way for survivors
who are not interfacing with the criminal system to access the kinds of medical, financial, and
care resources and services available through resources such as the Crime Victims Compensation Fund and other survivor services that currently require survivor coordination with the
criminal legal system. Accordingly, access to all of the community based options recommended
here should never require coordination with the criminal legal system. Furthermore, all funded
initiatives should ensure that mandatory reporting policies and practices are equitable and do
not over-reach beyond State of Texas requirements. All community based options funded by the
City should follow the process recommended by the “Uprooting Punitive and Harm Culture in Intersecting Systems” Working Group. The following community-based recommendations address
initiatives that will begin to create an environment in Austin in which all survivors of violence
have access to care and material support.
Community-Rooted Safety Grant Program
In alignment with the Reimagining Public Safety Task Force values of committing to liberation
and freedom, holistic community safety, accessibility, and divesting from systems that cause
harm, the he SSVVP Workgroup recommends that the City of Austin establish a permanent
Community-Rooted Safety Grant program to fund culturally responsive, community-rooted initiatives to address violence and create safer futures. The Community-Rooted Safety
Grant Program will invest in community-led prevention and intervention efforts that build community safety. It will elevate and support existing grassroots community-based strategies for
creating safety, healing harm, and preventing violence. It will also support community members
in developing their practices and building capacity for deepening community safety strategies.
Specifically, we recommend that the City establish a permanent Community-Rooted Safety Grant
Program of at least $350,000 per year that will fund community groups to lead promising initiatives in at least one of three areas:
• Safety and Immediate Well-being
• Healing and Repair from Harm
• Prevention – Planting Seeds for Violence-Free Futures
Grant awards will be for a minimum of two years and a maximum of four years. Organizations
may reapply.
The SSVVP Workgroup recommends that this grant fund be administered through the Austin
Public Health Department (APH). We recommend that APH follow the Equity Office’s mini-grant
protocol to keep funding accessible to initiatives led by and for people most impacted by violence and by violent systems of policing.
Eligible Organizations
Eligible organizations and groups are those whose primary purpose is to work in culturally-rooted ways with individuals and communities most impacted by racism, poverty, and the violence
and surveillance of the traditional policing system. Applicants do not need to be 501c(3) organizations; we recommend that APH follow the Equity Office’s mini-grant protocol to keep funding
accessible to initiatives led by and for most communities most impacted by violence and by
violent systems of policing.
Applicants must center those communities most directly impacted by the prison industrial complex; specifically Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian American, LGBTQIA+, Immigrants, Youth, People
with Disabilities, and cash poor populations. Applicants will be asked to demonstrate how their
proposed effort and their organization itself both reflect this focus.
Eligible Activities
Eligible activities under each subject area include, but are not limited to:
Safety and Immediate Well-being
Example areas of activity may include, for example:
• Crisis Intervention
• Victim/Survivor Emergency Funds
Healing and Repair from Harm
Example areas of activity may include, for example:
• Transformative Justice Circles
• Healing Circles
• Pod-mapping
Prevention – Planting Seeds for Violence-Free Futures
Example areas of activity may include, for example:
• Economic Empowerment
• Culturally Rooted Parent/Family Support
• Community Defense Zones
In addition, community-directed training or networking in service to the project should be an
allowable expense, so that grassroots groups can build their capacity in ways they define as necessary and useful.
Community Accountability
The SSVVP Workgroup recommends that grant award decisions be made by a community review panel made up of APH staff members, Equity Office staff members, and community members. Budget allocations to the Equity Office (and any other participating City entity) should be
increased to support the increased workload of participating in the review process. Community
members on the review panel would be funded for their participation and should include representatives from organizations led by and for people most impacted. In future years, grant
recipients not eligible for the current cycle of funding could also serve on the review panel, with
additional compensation provided.
The application process should be as low-barrier as possible. Grant reviewers should all be
trained to assess applications based on the project’s potential impact or outcomes, not on how
well-polished the application may be. Not having a professional grant-writer should not be a
barrier to applicants.
The Community-Rooted Safety Grant program should be subject to a periodic outside evaluation
process that incorporates substantive meaningful participation from community members most
affected by violence.
Trauma Recovery Center (TRC) Model
The SSVVP work group recommends that the city, through the Office of Violence Prevention,
provide $1 million in funding for the creation of a Trauma Recovery Center (TRC). TRCs provide
free, culturally responsive trauma informed therapy and case management for survivors of all violent crime, regardless of any involvement with the criminal legal system or immigration status.
TRCs are located in high-crime areas to serve victims that often do not access other services, and
they address the needs of survivors who are traditionally underserved, such as people experiencing street violence, gun violence, people who are homeless, LGBTQ+ victims, and communities of color. TRC’s are also uniquely situated to serve victims and families impacted by multiple
crimes who have complex trauma and require comprehensive services.
Please see the Alliance for Safety and Justice report: Trauma Recovery Centers: Addressing the
Needs of Underserved Crime Survivors in Texas. Also see op-ed in the Austin American Statesman from a Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice member in Austin, Opinion: Our city must do
more to break the cycle of violence. Also see report on The Trauma Recovery Center Model. The
SSVVP recommends that the formation of Austin TRC be led by people from the communities
most impacted by crime and violence and organizations led by and serving those populations.
Sex Worker Outreach Services
Recommendation: $460,000 first year, then $260k annually to fund sex worker outreach
services by and for sex workers. Including but not limited to:
a. Survey about violence within the community to strengthen the data available –
b. Peer support programming (bad date list, paid peer mentorship) and mutual aid –
c. Street outreach and harm reduction – $80k
d. Public health campaign against stigma for sex working, unhoused, and drug using
populations – $30k
e. Cultural competency trainings for legal / medical /social service providers in Austin –
Community-Based Economic Services
Recommendation: Expand a larger amount of funding to emergency financial assistance
projects. Immediate cash assistance is a primary need identified by survivors of violence when
trying to get safe and heal. Providing multiple avenues for survivors to access low barriers, flexible, emergency financial assistance is very important in order to reach those most vulnerable
and most marginalized. Many agencies and community partners could use funds of this nature
to quickly support individuals and families, promoting self-determination in the aftermath of
violence, and reducing the need for initial or ongoing systems involvement for those who do not
want it. A current example of a financial assistance program is the “Bridge to Safety,” a program
of The SAFE Alliance, which is currently funded by the City of Austin.
1. Increase the number of community partners who can distribute city-funded brief
financial assistance to at least 5 additional sites in the next fiscal year.
a. Provide centralized distribution as an option for additional funded partners to ease
administrative burdens and to ensure that most funds go directly to those seeking
financial assistance.
b. Do NOT require police reports or criminal legal system involvement to access funds.
Funding Recommendation::
– $75,000 p/year, p/site, for direct financial assistance x 6 (1 current, 5 additional)
agencies = $450,000
– Allot additional funds for coordination and administrative components of centralized distribution support, and/or for FTE/PTEs if agencies staff distribution themselves x 6 (1 current FTE, 2 additional) = $225,000
1. Broaden eligibility for brief financial assistance funds to all victims/survivors of
violence, allowing a greater number of individuals and families to utilize these monies in
order to access safety and healing resources.
2. Provide easier access to city-affiliated transportation, including free and deeply reduced CapMetro passes, to projects/individuals/agencies who are distributing brief
financial assistance funds.
– 100-150 passes p/year, p/site
It is recommended that the city incorporate some of the recommendations outlined in
FreeFrom’s Trust Survivors: Building an Effective and Inclusive Cash Assistance Program report
when creating these resources. Funding should:
– Give survivors of all types of violence multiple places to access these funds through culturally rooted community organizations and partners that are readily accessible throughout
the city
– Involve multiple options of how cash assistance can be distributed to individuals (for example, cash, venmo, not requiring bank accounts),
– Reserve a certain amount of funds for those most marginalized (people who identify as
– Not require “proof of” or eligibility requirements for receiving funds,
– Be flexible with no strings attached,
– Be available for victims/survivors to access healing resources with these funds, not just
immediate safety resources,
– Not require individuals to “become clients” of an organization or have continued involvement with the distribution site.
– Be able to be distributed quickly, within hours the same day if necessary
Currently, Bridge to Safety (BTS) is a city-sponsored project, administered at The SAFE Alliance,
that allows for one-time funding to individuals who have experienced Domestic Violence, Sexual
Assault, and/or Human Trafficking in last six months. BTS funds can be used for things like housing application fees, one-time rent or deposits, hotel stays, transportation to any shelter in the
US where person wants to relocate (in coordination with that shelter), security, cell phone, gas
cards, bus tickets, ID, childcare, education, employment assistance, translation, legal assistance,
medical and dental care, or plane fare. Bridge to Safety is meant to be fast — funds are distributed within hours or the same day.
Viewing SAFE’s Bridge to Safety as a pilot, the SSVVP Workgroup envisions that the city would
fund more, similar sites, who would be able to distribute these types of funds. Additional distribution sites may benefit from centralized coordination so that each site does not have to fund
FT staff, and more money can flow directly to those who need it.
Community-Based Housing Recommendation:
1. Create a subsidy program to incentivize landlords to rent at reduced and stabilized
rates to low income trans people of color, as identified through sex worker outreach
and harm reduction programs. Since part of project connect’s equity development plan
includes potentially buying land to prevent gentrification, this is something that would
help make sure these underserved populations of violence survivors are not left out of the
a. example: St. James Infirmary and Larkin Street youth Services partnership with the
City of San Francisco: “Addressing the homeless issue, which disproportionately
affects trans people, has been a priority for Mayor London Breed, who last year
announced that St. James Infirmary and Larkin Street Youth Services were awarded
two-year contracts for the subsidy program. St. James will receive $490,000 annually while Larkin Street will receive $660,000. The total budget request of $2 million
also includes $300,000 for trans housing stability case management for two years.”
Funding Recommendation: $500,000 p/year
2. Fund black trans led initiatives around the city, including a community housing
trust for housing units that would serve traditionally underserved populations of
black trans individuals who are survivors of state and interpersonal violence.
a. example: Black Trans Leadership of Austin: $500k for home cost, $40k for 2 house
manager part time salaries, $40k for admin salary, $10k legal support, $5k team
development trainings, $5k supplies
Funding Recommendation: $600,000 p/year
3. In addition to, and recognizing the potential intersections with, Community Housing-Based Recommendations 1 & 2, the city must: Increase and diversify funding for
housing support, including subsidies, a housing trust, crisis/emergency housing
providing Hotel Safety Net stays, food vouchers, and creation of a permanent fund
to address the COA housing crisis. Specific attention and resources must be earmarked for victims/survivors who are also experiencing housing insecurity and/or
homelessness, and displaced victims/survivors of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Human Trafficking. Availability of the funds cannot require law enforcement reporting and/or cooperation. Some diversified options, including Hotel Safety
Net programs, an example of which is Survive 2 Thrive, already exist in our community,
are currently funded by the City of Austin and are in need of additional funding. This need
certainly extends to individuals who have experienced many types of violence, including
victims/survivors living in homeless camps who may wish to access long term resources,
including transitional or supportive housing. Many victims/survivors are in danger but
cannot access shelter quickly and must spend time on shelter waitlists, and in the interim
need a safe place to go. The Survive2Thrive Foundation (S2T) provides temporary housing to individuals who have experienced Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault who face
displacement and homelessness when shelter is unavailable through a five county wide
safety net of hotels in Austin and the surrounding counties. These individuals are placed
in available hotel suites with kitchenettes and laundry facilities for up to 45 days and given
food and necessary resources like case management and telecounseling. The one-time
funding also goes to provide transportation stipends, housing deposits/application fees,
travel funds, and expenses associated with stabilizing them into semi-permanent/permanent housing. These programs provide victims seeking assistance an immediate option
when fleeing violence.
We expect that this recommendation will be taken up by many RPSF Workgroups and requires urgent, specific, and ongoing attention and investment made in line with TF values
and SSVVP’s overarching recommendations.
Funding Recommendation: $15,000,000 p/year
4. Offer funding for implementation of SSVVP Economic Recommendations (see above)
at any city-funded housing support sites (brief financial assistance & increased access
to city-affiliated transportation).
Community-Based Prevention
1. In the next two fiscal years, fund at least 3 programs or projects that expand or uplift
existing school-based and place-based, extracurricular, parenting support, and/or
additional community-driven prevention efforts; expand the number of programs
funded and/or funding amount in later fiscal years.
Funding Recommendation: $500,000 p/year
– $75,000 p/FTE
– $25,000 minimum for program supplies and direct support to participants
– $20,000 p/location, for expanding site-based and/or extracurricular programs
The SSVVP Workgroup recommends that COA diversify prevention money, particularly via funding that does not flow through the criminal legal system and instead invests in place-based
(schools, apartment complexes, neighborhoods, etc.) extracurricular, and non-systems-based
community violence prevention programs that uphold RPSF values. Prevention is an effective
and financially efficient way to move efforts to reduce violence “upstream,” investing in and
serving individuals and families in nurturing and healthy ways that are not crisis driven. Here in
Austin, many of these types of primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention activities are already
occurring in the community and at non-profit organizations; however more funding, especially
for culturally affirming engagement opportunities, and to reach a greater number of youth and
men, are needed.
Arts, athletic, and culturally affirming programs, with local examples such as Youth Rise Texas, Creative Action and OutYouth, include primary prevention strategies that have the potential to build community and promote healthy and engaging activities for youth. These types of
programs are often the first to experience funding cuts during periods of financial hardship in
the community, and need to be uplifted as our city transitions out of the COVID pandemic and
post-storm crises. Grassroots organizations, including Man in Me, which works to, “educate,
strengthen and support men towards responsible manhood and fatherhood,” are doing meaningful prevention work and reaching parents where they are in communities with everything
from meals in local parks to parenting groups. Programs should be place-based and specifically
include parts of the city that have been historically impacted by overcriminalization; ensuring
funds toward these efforts have, at minimum, parity with what was previously spent to police
these areas of the city is critical. These kinds of programs are effective, financially efficient, and
could be readily implemented widely throughout the city; they, and community-driven services
and resources that are yet to be imagined, will enrich neighborhoods and other areas with resources that can prevent violence and are deserving of the city’s investment.
2. The SSVVP Workgroup also expresses support for the recommendations of the Community Equity Reinvestment workgroup. Cash funds for basic needs and community-directed
funding within neighborhood hubs are promising “upstream” approaches to preventing
Education and Engagement of Non-Police Crisis and Healing Options
The city must dedicate funding and resources to help victims/survivors understand their healing
and accountability options outside of the criminal legal system. Opportunities to raise awareness
• Creating a page on the city’s website detailing options for healing and accountability
• Training 311 operators on how to assist people in crisis find culturally responsive resources
• Partnering with community-based organizations to engage with individuals about what to
do in crisis and how to meet long term healing needs.
Internal City of Austin
Mental Health Referral Fund
1. $360K annually to expand the EMDR training program, currently housed with Victim
Services, to also provide free access to other healing modalities, some of which may be
more culturally resonant.
a. Currently the EMDR program costs 50k annually to train community based therapists in exchange for free therapeutic services to victims/survivors regardless of
reporting status
b. Several community-based organizations can access the therapy referral list; we
recommend opening this list of referring organizations to any groups that serve
survivors/victims of harm.
c. This fund would directly pay for healing services instead of requiring victims/survivors to submit for reimbursement
d. Includes $60k for ½ FTE to coordinate fund
Safety for sex workers
The SSVVP working group recommends that city release individuals arrested, and stop arresting
individuals for prostitution and solicitation. The city should advocate for the county to dismiss
charges and for the expungement of records for those who have been previously convicted.
The city should also advocate to end Phoenix Court and instead, refer individuals to local community outreach programs that are relevant to their needs, like sex worker outreach programs
and harm reduction programs. If the appropriate programs don’t exist or are not robust enough
to serve the need, invest in paying people who are already doing the work in-community to continue and build capacity.
Full decriminalization of sex work is the ultimate goal, resisting partial decriminalization such as
the “Nordic model” of partial decrim which protects sex workers but criminalizes their clients,
thereby increasing incidents of violence and lack of safety and screening ability for sex workers.
In Baltimore many minor offenses will no longer be prosecuted, including prostitution,
drug posession, trespassing, open container, public urination, paraphenalia posession,
attempted distribution of drugs, and minor traffic offenses. These are all charges that
are used to criminalize street economy based people as well as unhoused people. While
homicides increased 30% in 2020 across the country, in Baltimore, violent crime dropped
20% with this approach. Given the significant overlap between people dependent on the
sex trade, people who use drugs, and people who are unhoused, following Baltimore’s
lead in stopping the prosecution of all minor level offenses on this list – while also intentionally including solicitation, so as to not create a partial decrim model that creates
further harm – would be directly in service of creating a safer environment for the most
marginalized members of Austin’s communities.
Independent Office of Police Oversight
The SSVVP workgroup recognizes that there is specific violence in our city that is perpetrated
by the police, and that the degree and type of power and privilege experienced by officers who
cause harm requires an equally specific type investigation and accountability process. Reporting
this violence to the very department that has caused it is unrealistic and untenable for many victims, and the OPO can be one viable option; many of the solutions outlined by this group aim to
provide alternative resources for survivors to turn to, but we find that those will not be fully realized without a safe and independent accountability body to address police harm so long as APD
exists. The workgroup recommends that the OPO is relocated from the City Manager’s Office, to
a position comparable to the City Auditor, with authority and access to fully engage with city and
department administration in responding to the experiences of victims of police violence.
Mandated Reporting
The SSVVP recognizes that overly broad mandated reporting practices harm survivors, discourage seeking help during and/or in the aftermath of interpersonal violence, and promote deeply
harmful and institutionally violent racial inequities. As such, we recommend that APD review and
revise their policies regarding mandated reporting, with meaningful engagement from Victims
Services; specifically, reevaluate and revise current practice of reporting to The Department of
Family & Protective Services in all instances of responding to survivors who have kids. Address
the reality that current practices disproportionately and negatively impact survivors of domestic
violence and their families and communities.
Office of Violence Prevention (OVP)
The Office of Violence Prevention – Austin’s first ever civilian office dedicated to community safety
and violence prevention – will be uniquely positioned to support the work of the RPSTF going forward. We recommend that the City create a permanent Violence Prevention Coalition anchored
by the RPSTF with the addition of survivors, youth, and individuals with lived experience from
the most impacted neighborhoods to guide OVP program development and budget priorities by
leveraging power with – not over – community.
Recommendation – $500,000 to facilitate a community-led strategic planning process rooted
in the principles of racial justice, inclusivity, transparency, self-determination, and participatory decision-making. During this process, it is imperative to integrate opportunities for healing
from collective trauma. For example, Equity-Centered Community Design, created by Creative
Reaction Lab, is a unique creative problem solving process based on equity, humility-building,
integrating history and healing practices, addressing power dynamics, and co-creating with the
community to dismantle systemic oppression. Another model developed by Dr. Lesley-Ann
Noel, Associate Director for Design Thinking for Social Impact and Professor of Practice at Tulane University, utilizes a modified approach to design thinking, starting with reflection on one’s
own identity and the identities of others and how these show up in both the design process and
the proposed solutions. This approach helps people notice diversity, and to see it as a strength
in the design process, while co-creating solutions that are relevant to diverse users. Using this
approach she has collaborated with the Crescent City Corps to co-create possible solutions to
improving relations between the New Orleans Police Department and residents of New Orleans.
Recommendation – $500K to build local capacity to assess, monitor, and utilize violence-related data from a variety of sources. This should include the creation of a Homicide Review Team
which is an evidence based program that attempts to reduce homicides and nonfatal shootings
through a multilevel, multidisciplinary, and multi agency case review process intended to identify
system gaps and opportunities. See, Milwaukee Homicide Review.
Recommendation – $2 million in immediate funds to implement, monitor, and evaluate pilot
strategies to interrupt the cycle of community violence in the neighborhoods most impacted by
police violence. There are several models from around the country that have shown both immediate and long-term reductions in gun violence. These proven strategies have similar principles
and common best practices, including:
• Identifying and focusing on individuals, groups, and neighborhoods at the highest
risk of being involved in gun violence;
• Engaging those individuals in a trusting relationship with trained, culturally-appropriate outreach workers with relevant life experience who connect participants
to wrap-around services, supports, and opportunities that provide alternatives to
violence; and
• Building trust with key people in the community to learn about ongoing disputes,
recent arrests, recent prison releases, and other disputes, then using mediation
techniques to resolve them peacefully.
In the future, the pilot model could be scaled up by embedding trained violence interrupters
within the community-led neighborhood “hubs” proposed by the Community Equity Reinvestment Working Group.
Victim Services
Victim Services serves a critical role within APD and the safety and wellbeing of survivors and
victims would be harmed by physically decoupling from APD before transformational change is
seen within the department.
1. Administratively decoupling Victim Services (VS) from APD requires the following:
a. Full access to offense reports, police radio, CAD, Versadex (all Criminal Justice Information System Reports)
b. Access to victims at the first police interaction (when patrol officers are dispatched)
c. Physical co-location of VS staff, within their assigned sworn units
i. Increases capacity to advocate for victims/survivors when VS advocates can
read, enter supplements, and liaise
ii. Ensures VS Counselors are available at all times when a victim comes in for a
iii. Maintains checks and balances-VS are likely to see issues before the public
become aware of it
iv. Fosters relationship building so that advocates can elevate survivor voices
d. Victim Services should be the last unit physically decoupled and decoupling should
be driven and informed by the communities most harmed, community-based survi-
vor advocates and by Victim Services leadership.
2. Recommendation- The VS Manager should report to the Assistant City Manager over
public safety or the APD Police Chief.
a. VS Manager to be included in executive and command staff meetings, and have
regular access to the APD Chief for communication and collaboration.
b. This will serve to educate those in power of the services that VS provides, including
direct services to clients, community and law enforcement training, and other programming.
c. This will ensure that VS has a voice at the decision making tables.
3. Recommendation- The APD budget should reflect the value the department attributes to
victims’ voices. As such, victim service salaries should be competitive and not depreciated
by cutting benefits or replacing needed positions with temporary positions. Victim service counselors should be paid a salary comparable to experienced counselors within our
community and comparable to victim service professionals in communities of comparable
4. Recommendation – Dedicate 30 hours of training time (currently 16 hours) for cadets and
2 hours yearly training for patrol officers, and inclusion in Field Training Officer training
and recertification. VS will coordinate with outside service agencies to provide training
regarding VS role, trauma-informed response to survivors, case studies, role plays, and
victim rights, with emphasis on interacting affirmatively with survivors representative of
Austin’s diverse communities. While there are other components of the Reimagining Task
Force that are focused on police training related to history of policing, equity, and cultural
humility, the piece that VS would be responsible for coordinating would center on victims,
witnesses, and survivors of crime, trauma, and violence.
5. Recommendation – Move to a model where each Sexual Assault survivor has the option
to speak to a patrol officer, a VS counselor, or both, with the counselor being the first
point of contact (either by phone or taking the lead on the scene), so that the survivor will
know what the counselor can offer and their options regarding reporting.
a. Counselors have more experience and expertise; counselors respond to Sex Crimes
calls weekly and sometimes daily. Officers respond to Sex Crimes call much less
frequently (some as few as every couple of months).
b. Easier to train 40+ counselors in trauma-informed interviewing for the purpose of
taking a report than to train hundreds of officers.
c. Important to still have law enforcement involved if the survivor is calling 911 to initiate a report.
i. This is to fulfill the caller’s expectation (they may prefer to speak with a police
officer as opposed to anyone else).
ii. Unless it is known that the scene is safe (e.g., offender is not on site, survivor
is stable enough to identify a non-law enforcement person as being there to
help, etc) then it is important to have law enforcement there.
6. Recommendation – Victim services collaborate with the Equity Office and community
stakeholders to implement opportunities put forth by the Community + APD Equity Assessment Series: Austin Police Department, Victims Services Division Report.
a. Development of concrete equity standards and assessment processes
b. Development and implementation of training modules on critical race issues as
part of recruiting, training, orientation and onboarding processes
c. Collaboration with Equity Office and community to develop and implement specific
accountability metrics for ensuring equitable practices
Total: 22,445,000

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