Austin PD employee engagement survey reveals low morale, lack of faith in leadership

Only 11% of employees indicated change is managed well by city leadership

By Ashley Silver

AUSTIN, Texas — A recently released Austin Police Department (ADP) employee survey reveals unusually low engagement scores, with confidence in city leadership at an all-time low.

According to KXAN News, the Listening to the Workforce Survey showed only 20% of responding APD employees felt the department was well managed and barely 11% indicated change is managed well by the city. The percentages were much lower than the citywide average.

Six hundred employees participated in the survey out of over 2,300 APD employees. APD officials released a statement to KXAN News in response to the survey findings. 

“APD survey results have been shared in a number of ways with the APD organization highlighting organizational strengths and identifying areas that are chronically low in satisfaction rates,” an APD spokesperson said.

With staffing an ongoing issue for APD, officers and staff are feeling pressure from long hours and what they feel is a lack of support from city leadership.

“At the earliest time I can leave this department and retire, I will and not look back. The city has trivialized my profession and completely destroyed this department,” one APD employee wrote in the survey according to KXAN News. “I don’t know any of my fellow officers who are not currently ‘looking for a way out.’ I was once very proud to call myself a COA employee with the APD. Now, it’s a different story.”

Another APD employee wrote the city treats APD officers like “herpes” because they’re a department that the city wants to throw away, but “can’t get rid of.”

Austin Mayor Steve Adler spoke with KXAN News and said the survey is a tool to pinpoint and better understand “the challenges and aspirations of our workforce.”

“Our city needs to be constantly trying to improve working conditions and general morale,” Adler said in a statement to KXAN. “It is important our workforce knows they are appreciated, especially in departments experiencing the greatest changes.”

APD has implemented new tools and projects derived from the survey’s findings including a workshop with APD executives to analyze and discuss the results, monthly award ceremonies, email blasts to the “APD Family,” expansion of professional development, a chief’s advisory committee and suggestion box, and an officer wellness app through Cordico.

APD lost 165 total officers to retirement and resignation last year – the most in five years and it may lose 180 by the end of the year. However, not all the survey results forecasted bad news or resignations, with several comments providing positive feedback the organization can build upon. One new hire wrote they were excited to get started with the APD, while another lauded over how much their department has improved over the last 5 years.

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