Austin police desperate as they face dire staffing shortages affecting residents' safety

"We're moving in the wrong direction. There's less and less and less resources to go out and do the job."

Thomas Villarreal, leader of the Austin (Texas) Police Association, denounced that the defunding of the police is affecting the community’s residents, as the authorities cannot respond to emergency calls.

Villarreal explained to Fox & Friends that not only is crime getting out of control, but staffing shortages are also putting 911 callers on hold. The leader of the Police Association blamed the problem on the city council for not caring about its police force.

“We’re a growing city, a city that should be up around 2,000 officers and growing right now,” he said, noting that instead, there are only about 1475 officers in the department.

“We’re moving in the wrong direction. There’s less and less and less resources to go out and do the job. I’ve got detectives who are pulled away from their caseload to just help answer 911 calls because we just don’t have the resources to adequately police the city,” Villarreal said.

Call forwarding

This is not the first time Villarreal has warned of the serious problem caused by the lack of agents. The association's leader previously said emergency calls were being diverted to the 311 non-emergency service.

“If you come home and find your home burglarized, calls like that are now going to 311. You’re not getting a police response to many property crimes if it’s not a violent crime that is currently ongoing,” he said.

This rerouting has caused anger in many residents, especially business owners affected by the lack of police response. “311 [non-emergency number] is not working. A jewelry store should not take 10 days to get a police report, this is for sure not working. You take away the police force and then ask us all not to have weapons or anything in our stores to protect ourselves. The crime rate is going to go up,” said Daniel Schwieterman, owner of Regard Jewelry in Austin.