Former Austin police officer rips new chief, pens scathing letter rejecting offer to return

Defunding police led to ‘disastrous consequences’ in Austin, Texas

Mackenzie Kelly, a city council member in Austin, says police are no longer responding to ‘non-emergencies’ due to staffing shortages caused by defunding police.

A former Austin, Texas police officer who left the force amid the city’s move to defund the police sent a scathing letter to the department rejecting their offer to hire him back.

“I am personally offended by your offer,” the former officer wrote in a letter obtained by Fox News in response to the city’s offer of $5,000 plus extra benefits for returning to duty. “I did not leave APD for money. I suspect my peers did not either. No amount of money could make me return. The offer from the chief shows just how out of touch he is with his officers. What we crave is leadership. The one thing that has been consistently withheld.”

The former officer, who identified as a military veteran, went on to explain in the letter that failed leadership is the reason for the decision to leave the department.

“The working environment within APD is one of the most dangerous in the nation,” the former officer wrote. “Not because of the hazards each officer faces in the streets, but because of the senior leaders that have no formal professional development leader training, do not value each officer as a person, push all responsibility to the patrol officer level, and holds them to unrealistic expectations.”

The former officer wrote that he, or she, sent a proposal to reform the promotion system in the department but was ignored.

The former officer took specific issue with the department’s decision to hire Joseph Chacon as the new police chief.

“Installing Chief Chacon is the biggest mistake the city of Austin could make during this monumental crisis of leadership facing the department,” the letter said. “He was brought up in this failed promotion system and has fostered a toxic leadership environment for his entire career.”

The letter concludes with the former officer saying that he, or she, can not in “good conscience” return to the department to serve under Chacon and that the “true victims” are the citizens of Austin.

“God help them,” the letter ends with.

Austin City Council Member Mackenzie Kelly, a former volunteer firefighter, told Fox News that she believes the $5,000 payment offer will create an even bigger divide.

“I understand the intention and spirit of the letter from the Chief of Police encouraging recently separated officers to return with a monetary incentive but the larger issue here is that officers who have been loyal to the city have not been offered a financial incentive for staying,” Kelly, who was one of just two votes against confirming Chacon as the new chief, said. “Uneven pay will breed a larger chasm related to morale issues brewing at the department. It’s important to maintain equity and fairness in pay across the board.” 

Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday told Fox News that about 30 officers received the letter from the department to return and while one officer did respond, none ultimately accepted the offer.

The letter comes after a record-shattering surge in officers leaving the force following the Austin City Council’s vote to strip funding from the police department in the wake of the George Floyd riots during the summer of 2020.

In January 2021, PJ Media reported that 20 officers retired from APD and eight resigned, for a total of 28 departures. In February, five more officers resigned and six retired which totaled 11 more departures. In March, 24 more officers left and 20 of them left via retirement. Of the other four, three retired and one was terminated.

In November, Austin residents will vote on Prop A which aims to restore much of the lost funding to the police department. 

“We are in the midst of the most profound police staffing crisis in Austin history,” Save Austin Now co-founders Matt Mackowiak and Cleo Petricek said in a statement to Fox News. “This is occurring during a historic violent crime wave here, as homicides are up 80% since last year’s modern-day record. Austin police morale is at an all-time low. We are roughly 300 police officers down in one year due to the $150 million police budget cut last year. ADP recently made the stunning announcement that due to the staffing crisis they can no longer respond to 911 calls unless it’s a life-threatening situation or the assailant is on the premises. Rank and file officers are being asked to put their lives on the line without the support they need to do the job. On Nov. 2nd, Austin must pass Prop A to fix this mess.”

The advocacy group founded by liberal billionaire financier George Soros has dumped $500,000 into a campaign to defeat the proposal.

Proposition A, backed by Save Austin Now, would require at least two Austin police officers for every 1,000 residents and would provide officers with an additional 40 hours of police training each year on topics such as weapons proficiency and active shooter scenarios. 

Fox News’ Jessica Chasmar contributed to this report

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