90 Miles From Tyranny : Here’s What Happened to Murder Rates When Texas’ Capital Defunded Police

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Saturday, October 2, 2021

Here’s What Happened to Murder Rates When Texas’ Capital Defunded Police

Drivers heading south on U.S. Route 183 in Austin, Texas, have become familiar with a billboard urging city police officers to relocate to Spokane, Washington, to become deputy sheriffs and collect a $15,000 bonus.

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office has targeted Texas’ capital city, already in a personnel crunch as the homicide rate reached a record high, along with other jurisdictions that recently slashed police budgets.

Amid the “defund the police” movement in 2020, the Austin City Council cut the police budget by about one-third and eventually lost 150 officers. In August, shortly before the city reached its all-time record for annual homicides, the council restored the funding.

“Austin is an incredibly fast-growing city. So we have more people coming in. We are losing about 15 police officers a month,” Lars Trautman, national director of the Right on Crime program for the Austin-based think tank Texas Public Policy Foundation, told The Daily Signal.

“And now we have a giant billboard go up along one of our highways from the Spokane Sheriff’s Department trying to lure our police officers away,” Trautman said. “It’s certainly not something that Austin residents like to see on their drive to work in the morning.”

The Austin City Council restored the police budget and then some, largely to comply with a new Texas law that withholds state aid to jurisdictions that defund their police forces.

But the Austin Police Department still struggles with a personnel shortage.

The council’s budget cut last year brought the number of officers from 1,949 to 1,809. However, as of Thursday, the Austin Police Department employed 1,612 officers, a police spokesman told The Daily Signal.

The council voted 9-2 late Thursday night to confirm department veteran Joseph Chacon, who is white, as the city’s new police chief over the objections of NAACP leaders and other activists who favored one of two black candidates from the Los Angeles and Dallas forces.

Chacon, previously an assistant chief, had served as interim chief for about six months when City Manager Spencer Cronk appointed him to the post on a permanent basis last week, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

The newspaper reported that the council’s vote to confirm Chacon as chief came a day after he announced that the department no longer would respond to some calls due to limited staffing, including burglary in cases where the intruder has left the scene, plus auto theft, vandalism, and other thefts.
Homicide at 37-Year High

The homicide rate this year in Austin, with a population topping 950,000, is the highest recorded in the 61 years such data has been available.

As of Sept. 12, 60 homicides had occurred so far in 2021, more than in any full calendar year on record, according to statistics compiled by KVUE-TV, Austin’s ABC affiliate, and the Austin American-Statesman newspaper using a combination of...

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oldvet1950 said...

The shortage of police is not due to defunding efforts, per se. The money, or lack of it, is not what is driving people from that profession. Rather, it is the attitude of the elected officials and simple minded populace (prospective jurors) that will reduce the number of dedicated LEOs, leaving behind the thugs on power trips afforded the opportunity to carry weapons and bully the citizens dealing out their own brand of justice. As they say, y'all ain't seen nothin' yet!

tsquared said...

I was in Austin this past summer and it is a shithole city. There is trash everywhere and tents of homeless pitched at the bottom of the steps of City Hall. It is the state capital but I have seen nicer 3rd world county capitals.