Austin City Council cuts $150M from police budget, so the county judge asks governor to send in state troopers

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AUSTIN, TX: Last week, the Austin City Council voted to remove $150 million from the $434 million annual Police Department budget.

Other cities have reduced police budgets in the wake of the Marxist Black Lives Matter and Antifa riots around the country, but none as drastically as Austin.

In total, Portland, Seattle, Oakland, Washington D.C. and Baltimore recently cut $90.6 million from their police budgets. Meanwhile, Fort Worth has voted to increase its police budget by 2.2%. Houston has increased its police budget by 2%. 

Austin Mayor Steve Adler doesn’t want to leave the impression that law enforcement will suffer because of the cuts.

First, the story goes, these aren’t really “cuts” in the sense that the money will be taken from the police and not spent on law enforcement. The way the City Council explains it, the money will be “shifted” out of the Police Department but will be used for law enforcement regardless.

The council’s broken the shifted budget into three categories: “immediate reinvestment,” the “Decouple Fund” and the “Reimagine Safety Fund.”

For instance, the budget calls for all three upcoming cadet classes to be canceled, giving the city a one-time savings of $2.27 million and a recurring annual savings of $10.74 million. The savings of $13 million will then be immediately reinvested in abortion access, parks and trails, EMS-COVID response, permanent supportive housing, equity in police technology, and other items.

Here’s the problem: none of the programs earmarked to receive money transferred from the cadet training program have anything to do with cadet training.

This is like “shifting” your household utilities budget into your pastry budget: you’ve got all the cake and cookies you could want, but you have to eat them in the dark and you can’t take a shower. This fund also cuts about $13 million from other areas, such as overtime, mounted patrols, records management, etc.

The Decouple Fund doesn’t look that bad on its face. It is the largest of the three shifted funds, at $79.6 million, but the money will still pay for the same services. But instead of being under the purview of the Police Department, this money and the services it funds will be supervised by civilians outside of the Police Department.

What could go wrong with that?

Well, here are the affected services: Forensics Sciences, Communications/9-1-1 Call Center, Support, Strategic Support, Community Partnerships, Victims Services, Internal Affairs, Special Investigations Unit, and Special Events.

One thing that seems to be missing from this part of the budget is money to accommodate administrative overhead incurred by transferring control of these services from the police to civilian control.

More to the point, if they intend to keep the services and spend the same amount on them as they have in the past, why go to the trouble of “decoupling”? Among other things, it means that money cannot be moved from one of these departments or services to another without approval from the City Council.

Another “benefit,” according to Councilman Jimmy Flannigan, is that the City Council will be in a position to approve appointments to each of the departments created by the decoupling process. In other words, they don’t trust the current leadership, so they intend to hand-pick a group of replacements.

This isn’t to help the Police Department. If anything, it is designed to interfere with law enforcement.

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The last of the three funds is wittily called the “Reimagine Safety Fund.” This “shifts” $49.2 million from overtime, mounted patrols, K-9 units, traffic enforcement, training and other items, and uses it for completely different things.

Instead of all of the useful line items the money has traditionally been spent on, the money goes into a vaguely defined fund with no fixed targets. The council has a Sears catalog wish list of what it could buy if only it had the money, except now it does.

The items on its fantasy list for reimagining police service to the community include: golf course fees, Let Texans Vote Day, abortion access, APD budget direction (because it apparently doesn’t know what it wants to spend the money on), budget process, and the “Clean Creeks Crew.”

In short, the Reimagine Safety Fund takes money from existing useful services that will be cut as soon as this budgeted money disappears, and then the money will be put into a kind of rainy day fund for when the City Council decides how it wants to use it. One thing it won’t be used for is for anything it currently spends the money on.

But more than that, however it is used, the City Council’s goal will be a combination of city beautification and social justice programs, not policing.

The mayor doesn’t want us to think that the people of Austin will be losing any essential police services. To convince us, he describes how the money will be shifted into other things, like moving the Police Department out of its police station because it has supposedly outlived its usefulness, and then renovating the station for use as a BLM-friendly neighborhood welcome center.

In the context of recent deadly riots in Austin that were inspired by BLM, such a move reeks of disloyalty and malice towards the people of Austin. A cursory look at the budget proposal is enough for anyone to see that almost half of the money will leave the Police Department for good. The remaining portion will be hamstrung by council-appointed commissioners, whose presence is designed to frustrate existing management in the Police Department.

How this is good for anyone would only make sense in a crime-free fantasy world.

The city of Austin is part of Williamson County. County Judge Bill Gravell Jr. has taken a look at the budget and sees serious problems for residents of Austin and the county. He sent a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott, asking him to assign state troopers to Austin to help the Austin Police Department, now handicapped by the City Council’s new budget.

The governor promised:

“The Texas Department of Public Safety will stand in the gap to protect our city.”

While Gov. Abbott’s response to Judge Gravell’s plea for help was encouraging, the governor was short on specifics. One can only hope that Austin will get the support it needs. 

Speaking of the Austin City Council, Councilman Greg Casar is proud to be the youngest person to ever serve on the council.

Casar is also one of the big idea men behind the recent budget cuts.

If you’d like to let Casar know how pleased you are with his performance at the next election, here is a link to his bio.

Jimmy Flannigan is another Austin councilman who is “not afraid to stand up for what is right,” meaning, he helped defund the police of Austin. If you want to let Flannigan know what you think of him at the ballot box this year, here is his campaign page.

If you live in Austin and want the city to prosper, you owe it to yourself and your neighbors to vote your City Council out of office. You saw riots in your city recently that resulted in a fatal shooting, among other acts of violence. You will only get more of that if the current council has its way. If anything, those riots should have been a wake-up call to the city of Austin. Clearly, the city has a crime problem. That would recommend increasing the police budget, not reducing it.

Even better, let the police do their job. If the city of Austin wants the violence to stop, let the police stop it by arresting the hoodlums masquerading as protesters.

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