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Building 310, Suite 165
Austin, TX 78744

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In the News: News from June 2019

MyCommuteSolutions.com relaunches, improves experience

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The CAPCOG Regional Planning and Services Division upgraded the Commute Solutions program by updating the commute planning and tracking tool and website, myCommuteSolutions.com. The update makes it easier for residents to determine sustainable traveling options in an effort to lower the usage of single-occupancy vehicles leading to lower roadway congestion and improved air quality.

Changes to the website modernized its appearance while making it for easier for residents to plan and track their commutes. It now allows non-registered users to map an upcoming trip to see possible routes, including carpool, transit, biking, and walking options, while estimating the trip’s travel time, pollution contribution and cost. The tool is also available as an app for Android and Apple devices.

Registered users, can still find carpool partners and track the benefits of their more sustainable commutes over time. Other new features from the upgrade include:

  • New Program/Incentives for users
  • Community Events listings
  • Integrations with Waze, Waze Carpool, and Strava
  • Passive tracking through the mobile app

myCommuteSolutions.com users should have received an email asking them to transfer their previous account to the new platform. If they did not previously create an account, now is a great time to sign up.

> Check out myCommuteSolutions.com or download the apps for iOS and Android.
> Learn more about the Commute Solutions Program.

New RLEA Director takes local, regional approach to training

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Mike Jennings, former director of CAPCOG’s Regional Law Enforcement Academy from 2007 to 2015, returned to the position on May 20. Jennings, a 48-year veteran of policing, wants to ensure local jurisdictions have their pick of top caliber peace officers to staff their agencies and current law enforcement officers have the ability to learn and adapt to the ever changing job demands in their communities.

“This job is about providing high quality officers for every department throughout the region,” Jennings said. “CAPCOG works with all the agencies in the region to make sure it delivers officers that are tailored to their communities whether that is San Marcos, Llano or Fayette County.”

Before his previous stint at CAPCOG, Jennings served in the Houston Police Department, Jersey Village Police Department, Gillespie County Sheriff’s Office, the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office and on the Texas Jail Commission. He has worked a variety of positions from patrol officer to detective to jail administrator and holds many Texas Commission of Law Enforcement certificates to include Master Peace Officer, ALERRT Trainer, Advanced Instructor, SWAT, and Law Enforcement Fitness Specialist. In November 2015, Jennings became the Dublin Police Chief but returned to the region as a captain for Travis County Precinct 2 Constable.

He is looking forward to drawing from his experiences to shape better community officers. “I enjoy teaching young officers about how law enforcement has advanced over the years,” Jennings said. “I want to make sure cadets and officers evolve with the job, and that community policing is the most important part of their job. Officers have to know their community, their neighbors, because they are there to serve and protect them.”

> Learn more about RLEA.

Prepare for wildfire season by registering for alerts at WarnCentralTexas.org

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Public safety officials and local advocates from around the region at a Warn Central Texas press conference in May urged Central Texas residents to prepare for the 2019 wildfire season by staying aware of their wildfire risk, mitigating dangers, and preparing themselves to act. Registering for local emergency alerts at WarnCentralTexas.org and becoming a Firewise USA Community are two ways residents can stay vigilant. The wildfire season historically starts in May and can last until October.

“We like to say that wildfires are everyone’s fight in Central Texas,” said Justice Jones, Austin Fire Department wildfire mitigation officer. “Taking simple steps can ensure your home doesn’t ignite during a wildfire such as keeping debris from your gutters and trimming your trees to eliminate dead wood and leaf litter… and heeding warnings you receive through Warn Central Texas.”

WarnCentralTexas.org is a portal for residents to register cellphones and email addresses to receive emergency messages from local public safety officials using the regional notification system. The system can alert an entire city or county, or send hyper-local messages targeting neighborhoods or streets. Messages can include actionable alerts such as evacuation or shelter-in-place instructions. All CAPCOG member governments can use the tool.

The National Fire Protection Association’s Firewise USA program encourages neighbors to work together to prevent losses that could be caused by wildfires. The program educates and motivates people at the neighborhood level to take actions such as clearing excess brush and knowing evacuations routes or safe places to shelter in place. The Austin Firewise Alliance runs quarterly in-depth training to help community leaders make their neighborhoods more wildfire resilient and become Firewise; it welcomes all communities.

According to the Texas A&M Forest Service, the wildfire risk will be higher during the late summer because of the year’s larger than average rainfall; increased rains create more vegetation providing more fuel for wildfires.

> Learn more about WarnCentralTexas.org and the regional notification system.
> Learn how to become a Firewise USA community.

CAPCOG sends criminal justice grant priorities to governor

Thursday, June 13, 2019

The CAPCOG Executive Committee in May approved a prioritized list of recommended projects to receive funding from four Office of the Governor (OOG), Criminal Justice Division (CJD) grant programs ranking 54 applications from local governments and nonprofits. The OOG will select the final grant awardees and anticipates announcing them by October.

The OOG set the CAPCOG regional budget estimate at a combined $8.2 million for the four grant programs: General Victim Assistance Direct Services, Violence Against Women Justice and Training, Juvenile Justice Grant, and Criminal Justice. However, applications from the CAPCOG region requested more than $12.2 million, meaning the region is oversubscribed in all but one area — Violence Against Women Justice and Training. After reviewing other regions’ recommendations, the OOG may allocate more funding to CAPCOG area projects. To maximize regional funding through these grants, CAPCOG solicited more than 300 government and nonprofit organizations to set funding priorities for projects and to submit grant applications.

Annually, CAPCOG helps coordinate these grant awards by setting the region’s criminal justice priorities, holding grant writing workshops, and reviewing and ranking applications. The 2021 plan year grant process will start in October 2019 with stakeholder meetings.

> Find the list of grants.
> Read more about the CAPCOG Criminal Justice Program.
 

Basic peace officer courses turn cadets into everyday heroes

Monday, June 10, 2019

The CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy will conduct a full-time, day and a part-time, night Basic Peace Officer Course in October and November, respectively, so agencies region wide can have a greater pool of licensed peace officers to support their communities. Entrance exams will take place on June 28, July 19, and Aug. 16 at the CAPCOG offices, 6800 Burleson Road, Building 310, Suite 165 in Austin.

“Right now we have a drastic need for police officers because of the current events,” said Mike Jennings, CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy director. Many police agencies across the region have vacancies and CAPCOG specifically tries to fill these positions as agencies throughout the ten counties assist in developing the academy’s curriculum beyond the state’s requirements.

CAPCOG is seeking open-minded people who make calm and sound decisions that are passionate about public service and are in good physical shape to join the academy. By the end of the more than 640-hour courses, academy graduates will have learned to be a greater community partner as a peace officer and will have earned not only their Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Basic Peace Officer License, but several advanced career certificates such as tactical police driving; OC spray; and community first aid, CPR and AED.

“By the time our cadets graduate, they become people who can make quick decisions and be held accountable for their actions, but foremost serve their neighbors, their community.” Jennings said.

> Read more about the academy.
> Register for an entrance exam.

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