Austin City Council voted Dec. 13 to reject the proposed five-year contract with the Austin Police Department and send the sides back to the negotiating table. A new police contract is scheduled to be presented to council by March 22.
Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody said while he believes what's happening in Austin is unfortunate, he does however see this as an opportunity to get qualified candidates to work in Williamson County.
However, he says he is not stealing or actively recruiting any Austin police officers.
It is entirely their choice to apply, and a handful already have.
Chody strongly disagrees with what happened with the police contract. He says citizens did some police bashing and he thinks the council did not stand behind their police department.
“Officers in the country, nationwide, should not be held accountable for a bad officer, and that's what I think the city council, in my opinion, in some aspect, is doing,” said Chody.
APD Interim Chief Brian Manley told Community Impact Newspaper that he is aware of recruitment efforts by other agencies and it remains to be seen if the trend will continue.
"We are at a moment in time right now where we are without a labor agreement, and I think this is a bump in the road that we will get past," he said. I’m hoping that the men and women of the Austin Police Department will recognize it as such and will continue to serve the people of Austin the way they have for so many years because it’s a great city to work in. At the end of the day, though, it’s a decision that each and every officer has to make as far as what’s right for them and their families."
According to the Austin Police Association, at least 37 police officers have retired since the Austin Police Department went under civil service law.
District 6 Council Member Jimmy Flannigan previously told Community Impact Newspaper that the rapid increase in compensation requested in the contract would hinder the police force’s ability to hire more officers, a primary concern of many of his Northwest Austin constituents, many of whom reside in Williamson County.
Reporting is provided as part of Community Impact Newspaper’s partnership with Fox 7 News.
Additional reporting by Community Impact reporter Emma Freer