Increasing the dialogue; Austin Police Department plans more outreach in 2015
Published 10:37 am Thursday, January 15, 2015
The Austin Police Department is planning to reach out to the community a little more this year.
Police Chief Brian Krueger outlined several plans to increase communication between cops and residents in a presentation to the Austin City Council Tuesday during the council’s work retreat.
“We cannot be at all places at all times, so when people see something out of the ordinary, instead of thinking about it and not making a phone call, they should pick their phone up,” Krueger said. “That’s what we’re here for.”
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Police will unveil a new online app called Tip411 over the next few weeks that will allow residents to anonymously give tips and other information to police, either through text messages or encrypted phone calls.
Krueger said the application is meant to help residents who might not want to give information about crimes, such as the latest spree of vandalism that took place last weekend. The app allows people to give tips without worrying about being identified.
In addition, residents who subscribe to the app will get crime information and alerts from police.
Police are also looking into starting a citizens academy in Austin in the near future. Police have had great success educating Leadership Austin participants on police procedures, according to Krueger, which prompted officers to discuss putting on an academy. An academy is still in its early stages and could take place either this year or next.
Krueger also highlighted various ways police have helped community members in Austin.
Officers prevented two weather-related deaths last winter when they found people in snowbanks on patrol. In addition, squad cars have used their all-wheel drive to help motorists who get stuck on the side of the road. Krueger said even the Special Incident Response Team’s Humvee has been called out to help motorists stranded in a snowbank.