George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers has changed our community. We hear and share the anger, frustration, and worry that so many are voicing. Keeping everyone safe has been our commitment for more than twenty years.
Police reform is possible without risking public safety. The community wants good policing, not fewer officers.
We need to reform, not defund the police department. Symbolic acts to cut cops and defund the police department don’t solve inequity, poverty, and racism. Making the community less safe doesn’t fix failures in affordable housing, education, and public health.
That’s why the decisions facing the Austin City Council this Thursday are serious. Like public camping last summer, the city council is considering policy changes without knowing the consequences and limited public input.
You can’t solve a public safety crisis by creating another.
The Greater Austin Crime Commission supports many of the recommendations in Item 50 (Garza), Item 95 (Casar), and Item 96 (Harper-Madison), such as reducing racial disparity in traffic enforcement, using de-escalation tactics instead of deadly force, increased staffing for mental health response, and training for the use of Naloxone for overdose response.
Unfortunately, commendable policy changes are overshadowed by parts that put the community at risk. Policing reforms are possible without jeopardizing the safety of our neighborhoods.
Police cutbacks will make response times worse when aggravated assaults, robberies, and property crimes are rising. Recruiting and training will be impacted for years.
Working with city leaders, we have pushed for more, better-trained police officers that have time to build relationships in the neighborhoods they serve.
What can you do?
Call and email the mayor and city council.
Tell city leaders you oppose cutting police positions and delaying the July cadet class. Express your support for Chief Brian Manley and 1,793 police officers who are keeping us safe under unthinkable circumstances.
Speak out at the virtual city council meeting on Thursday.Sign up here. Public comment will be allowed via telephone. The sign-up deadline is noon tomorrow.
George Floyd will be buried today in Houston. The legacy of his life will remind us every day that change must happen. That’s why the Greater Austin Crime Commission has pledged to continue working with criminal justice reform, neighborhood, and social justice groups to find solutions.