Austin, Texas is experiencing a police crisis. The Austin Police Department (APD) has more than 250 job vacancies, which will only increase with retirements coming in the next few months. The shortage of officers has been fueled by the woke Democrat-led administration that carried out measures such as the defunding the police years ago.
The lack of resources resulting from progressive measures has left the APD underprepared to fight crime in the city, sources told the New York Post.
2021 saw the highest number of homicides (88) recorded in the city's history. In the first half of 2022, the number of rapes (179) and aggravated assaults (about 2,000) also increased compared to previous data, according to KAXN. Lt. Brian Moon, who retired a month ago, said, "We’re right there with Portland and Seattle and San Francisco as being one of those places where if you’re at all conservative or in law enforcement, it’s become a hostile place."
Defund the police
Three years ago under former Mayor Steve Adler, also a Democrat, the local administration cut $150 million in funds from the APD, a third of the previous year's budget. They also abolished three classes of cadets. According to former agent Moon, the Austin City Council's neglect of its police force began then:
You could see that the city’s attitude towards its police department had started to shift and, personally speaking, I didn’t feel that the city was really appreciating us the way they used to. Austin had always been a pretty liberal-leaning city, but it was pro-law enforcement at the same time. They expected us to do things the right way, obviously, but they weren’t hyper-critical like they became.
Another of the administration's woke measures regards the alleged aggression used by police against protestors. Last year, 19 officers were charged with excessive use of force. "It almost felt like there was a target — like the District Attorney’s Office and the city was looking for an opportunity to do something to you, to prosecute you or fire you, no matter if you did it right or did it wrong," Moon said.
One of the accused officers was Senior Officer Justin Berry, who noted, "Who wants to work for someone that belittles you and demonizes you?"
Forwarding emergency calls to non-emergency service
When responding to emergency calls, the Austin Police Department has to divert calls it receives on the 911 emergency hotline to the non-emergency 311 service. Austin Police Association (APA) Union President Thomas Villarreal said:
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.
Faced with a lack of financial resources, APD had to resort to artificial intelligence (AI) to support non-urgent incidents. The software communicates instantly with citizens via cell phone, web or text messages.
Plan to make Austin a safer place
The local administration announced a plan to encourage enlistment and support officers. Within this plan are measures such as a 4% salary increase for all officers below the rank of deputy chief and a $15,000 bonus for new cadets.
➡️4% increase in pay for all officers under the rank of assistant chief
➡️Incentives for current officers, including a pay increase for officers nearing retirement
➡️Up to a $15,000 incentive for new cadetshttps://t.co/gtFs5bYpyb
— Mayor Kirk Watson (@KirkPWatson) March 2, 2023
"This compensation plan is a result of the process working to make Austin safer for its residents. When the Mayor called for increasing pay for our officers so that we can recruit and retain more police officers, the Council took action to let the professional staff determine how to best achieve that result," said Councilman Ryan Alter.