We told the Austin City Council last month that a majority of likely voters didn’t support cutting cops when crime is on the rise and response times are slower.
And they did it anyway. Cutting $21 million now and potentially $128 million more in six months.
Council Member Greg Casar sent an email to supporters saying “We won!” after the vote. Who lost? Crime victims? Neighborhoods? Economic development and tourism? Casar’s district did. It leads the city in every violent crime category.
The truth is, we all lost.
According to the latest Chief’s Monthly Report, murder (53%), auto theft (31%), arson (23%), aggravated assault (17%), and other crime categories have increased compared to the same time last year.
When the fiscal year begins in October, the police department will lose 150 positions, which takes us back to 2015 staffing levels when we had 100,000 fewer residents. More than $21 million of the police budget will be reallocated and reinvested in community health paramedics, family violence, mental health response, violence prevention, and other services. These are vital programs, which the Austin City Council could have funded without cutting the police budget.
The FY21 budget passed unanimously by the Austin City Council last week made $21 million in cuts from the police budget. Another $128 million was set aside in a “transition budget” that the council must reconsider in six months.
The City-Community Reimagine Public Safety Task Force meets for the first time later today. This group, which includes the Greater Austin Crime Commission, will make recommendations about the $128 million “transition budget.” That includes decisions about other police functions, including K-9, lake patrol, mounted patrol, park patrol, recruiting, traffic enforcement, training, and youth programs.
As a Neighborhood Network supporter, you’ll receive regular reports on the task force’s progress and work.
What can you do?
- Use these links to call and email the Austin City Council. Urge the mayor and council members to reconsider more cuts to the police budget and keep the cadet classes scheduled next year.
- Support the Neighborhood Network. Your tax-deductible gift will help us fight for public safety and engage the entire community.
There is much work to do in the next six months. The Crime Commission will be a constructive partner in the City-Community Reimagine Public Safety Task Force. But the Austin City Council needs to hear from the Neighborhood Network about proposals to cut or move more police services.
P.S. Encourage your family, friends, and co-workers to sign up for the Neighborhood Network. Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter.