During nationwide protests regarding police reforms last year, the Austin, Texas, city council moved to cut approximately one third of its police budget, which was the largest cut of any big city in America.
But since the cut, Austin has increasingly become less safe, Fox News reported Sunday.
“According to statistics compiled by the data analysis firm AH Datalytics, the city has seen a nearly 71% increase in homicides over the past year. While homicides have increased nationwide since 2020, Austin’s increase is one of the largest the firm has tracked,” the outlet said:
The funding cuts brought with them a series of changes to the Austin Police Department. Cadet classes were canceled, making it more difficult to bring more officers onto the force. Certain specialized units were cut back. Attrition soared. By May 2021, police staffing shortages led to a 30% increase in 911 response times.
In August, the council, feeling pressure from an increase in violent crime and a state law penalizing cities that defund their police, reversed course when it came to the cuts and approved a substantial increase in law enforcement funding.
“But activists at Save Austin Now think it’s too little, too late. They successfully worked to put a referendum, Proposition A, on the ballot, with a special election set for Tuesday,” the Fox report said.
It would require the city to keep two officers per 1,000 residents, promote more training, and offer incentives to recruit police officers who speak more languages.
Every Austinite Deserves To Be Safe. Restore Our Police & Enact Important Reforms with a Vote For Prop A: Despite a skyrocketing population, Austin now has the lowest police staffing levels it has ever had. 911 responses are way up and crime is way up #PropA #Austin #austintx pic.twitter.com/a6GZ6v2GT7
— Save Austin Now | Prop A For A Safe Austin (@SaveAustinNow) October 29, 2021
“People here locally do not want to fund defund-the-police efforts. They do not want to defund the police,” Save Austin Now cofounder Matt Mackowiak, a Republican activist, told the outlet.
In May, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced he would sign a bill barring cities from defunding their police departments.
In a statement to Breitbart Texas, Abbott said:
Texas has been—and always will be—a law-and-order state. Defunding law enforcement invites crime and chaos into communities, and it risks the lives and livelihoods of innocent people. We will not let Texas cities follow the lead of cities like Portland, Seattle, and Minneapolis by defunding the police. Here in Texas, we don’t demonize or defund our law enforcement officers—we support them.
“And that’s exactly what I will do when I sign the legislature’s bill to defend our law enforcement from crazy liberal attempts to defund them and leave our communities unprotected,” he added.