At the Austin City Council’s direction, City Manager Spencer Cronk is expected to propose a budget next Monday that cuts nearly 100 police officers.
“Defunding” the police department makes everyone less safe. Smart police reform is possible without jeopardizing the safety of our businesses, churches, neighborhoods, and schools.
If the Austin City Council supports data-driven policy, that means making evidence-based budget decisions this summer.
We can’t afford to cut cops. Consider the facts.
- Emergency response times are slower (28 percent increase since 2011).
- Aggravated assaults (7 percent), auto thefts (21 percent), individual robberies (6 percent), non-residential burglaries (14 percent), and traffic fatalities (88) were up last year.
- Austin dropped from 11th to 18th safest city for property crimes, and violent crime increased significantly downtown and in the entertainment district last year.
- Community policing will suffer. The time officers have to build relationships and trust in the neighborhoods they serve is still below the minimum recommended national standard.
- Three police staffing studies since 2012 have all said the same thing. Austin has fewer police officers than needed for the call volume and workload of a growing city.
- Eliminating 100 police officers takes us back to 2015 staffing levels.
What can you do?
- Call and email the mayor and council regularly. Urge smart police reform without putting the community in danger by cutting cops.
- Organize your neighborhood. Request a virtual group meeting with your council member.
- Ask your council member to justify cutting cops using data, not political rhetoric. What are the consequences of such drastic cuts? Will crime go down? Will response times improve? Will police have more time to handle property crime? Will police have more time to get to know the neighborhoods they serve? Does a growing city need fewer cops than we had five years ago?
The mayor and every member of the Austin City Council voted for the resolution last month, forcing the city manager to reduce police positions in the upcoming budget. Now it’s time for council members to hear from the community, the voices they ignore because we don’t target them at their homes or barrage their offices with form emails and robocalls.
Virtual public budget hearings are scheduled for July 23 and 30. Budget adoption begins on August 12.
In the weeks ahead, Neighborhood Network supporters will receive data and research that shows the link between police staffing and safety. Please share this information with your co-workers, family, and friends.
P.S. Forward and ask your family and friends to join the Neighborhood Network. Follow the Greater Austin Crime Commission on Facebook and Twitter.