The Austin Police Department will no longer respond to the scene of nonemergency crimes, interim police Chief Joseph Chacon announced Sept. 29.

Chacon said several types of crimes, including verbal disturbances, theft and prostitution, that are no longer an active threat people or property should be considered nonemergency and reported to 311 or online instead of to 911.

The new measure will go into effect Oct. 1.

He said this change comes as growth within the city and staffing issues stretch APD’s resources thin.

“We are trying to keep up with a rapidly growing city,” Chacon said.

He said crime reports will still be taken and the incidents will still be investigated despite officers not responding to the scene. He also said in limited cases civilian APD employees, such as crime scene experts, might respond.

“That may be the most appropriate way to handle it so I can free my officers up to respond to emergencies,” Chacon said.

Chacon said the change may mean longer hold times when calling 311 because those operators are dealing with staffing issues as well.

Chacon emphasized the importance of the measure, given increasing crime reports, growing response times and staffing issues.

He said he feels the department is heading in the right direction by bringing back cadet academies to address those staffing shortages.

Chacon called the move a “necessary measure” given the current issues facing the department, but he said that depending on how it works, the department may keep the model.

“If a person is in doubt if it is an emergency or not, call 911,” Chacon said.

Chacon defined a nonemergency as incidents that are no longer in progress, in which the suspect is no longer on scene, and in which there is no further threat to life or property. If any of those three conditions are not met, then it would be considered an emergency.

Crimes subject to the new measure:

  • Animal service

  • Attempted theft of property

  • Burglary of res bus or vehicle

  • Vehicle crashes in which no vehicle needs to be towed, there is no injury, none of the drivers appear impaired and each driver has proof of insurance

  • Prostitution

  • Suspicious vehicle or person

  • Verbal disturbances

  • Theft