AUSTIN EDITION - Council nixes police request

No staff to be added this year

By Roxana Orellana

There will not be any additional help to fight rising crime in Austin this year.

Last year, Austin had a higher crime rate than Albert Lea, Owatonna, Rochester and Winona. The city had higher arrest number than Albert Lea, Owatonna and Winona.


Statistics from Chief Paul Philipp show that officers in Austin had twice as much work as in comparable communities, including Rochester.

Philipp put the statistics in a report for the city council to make the case for hiring a 31st officer. However, the council concluded at this week's work session that hiring is not going to happen soon.

Council members were advised to wait until health insurance and labor negotiations are done with the city's seven unions.

Finance Director Tom Dankert advised council members to review the request in April.

The report showed a steady rise in crimes committed in Austin since 1985. Graphs show figures from 1985 to 2003. However, the number of arrests decreased from 2000 to 2003.

Other information in the report included increases in population since 1980 and an increase in housing from 9,789 in 1990 to 11,638 in 2000.

The community has been changed by illegal drugs, language barriers, greater demands for case investigation and preparation, and poverty, Philipp said in the report.

Officers already have greater caseloads than any officers in surrounding communities and are continually being asked to do more, he said.


Yet Austin remains third among the six comparison cities in the number of cases cleared, the report said.

If approved, the new position would allow for promotion of an officer on staff to an investigative position.

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