Last August, the City Council in Austin, Texas voted to partially defund the police department, stripping it of millions of dollars.
The department lost $21.5 million from its budget and another $128 million was redirected to other city departments.
Now, as the crime rate continues to increase, interim Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon says he is worried about the issue.
I call it a crisis because it is a crisis.Joseph Chacon
Chacon explained that approximately 150 positions are open, including high administration positions. The department’s top spot is to be filled in August, with Chacon as one of the considerations.
Cary Roberts of the Greater Austin Crime Commission noted that murders are up 96% from last year, and while rates where climbing before the budget cut, the situation is even more important now.
Those who call 911 in emergencies are now having to wait longer for help. Current data shows that the average response time to a priority 1 call for the police is about 9 minutes. That’s just the time it takes them to get there, it doesn’t include having to wait for backup.
Officers are also short of the resources they need to properly address these emergency situations.
The City Council is meeting soon to discuss next year’s budget and law enforcement is afraid that the situation will worsen if the same amount of money is withheld from the department.
This puts residents in danger and invites crime into communities and we can’t allow this in TexasRepublican Gov. Greg Abbott
Governor Greg Abbott has been working against the defunding by signing legislation that would penalize cities for taking away police funding. This could include sales tax revenue being withheld as well as a ban on increasing property taxes.