Austin police recruits become collateral damage in $100 million budget cuts: ‘I gave up a high-paying job for nothing’


AUSTIN, TX – The next class of Austin police cadets will not even get the chance to train to become police in Austin.

Thursday, the Austin City Council voted on sweeping budget cuts that slashed more than $100 million from the police department budget.

And, the hits could keep coming.

City leaders have already put APD on notice that another $49 million in cuts could follow in the future.

Of the money that’s already been taken from law enforcement, local news outlet Fox 7 reported that $21 million will be immediately reinvested in EMS, domestic violence shelters and programs to address homelessness and violence.

They said police services including internal affairs, forensics and the 911 call center will be moved outside of APD. 

It’s a budgetary blow that police departments nationwide have faced this year as a pandemic collided with civil unrest and demands to defund the police.

The hit to the bottom line was perhaps less anticipated by the recruits who had already given up their livelihoods or built their futures on their acceptance to the Austin police academy, some relocating to the area to do so.

The council’s vote eliminated 150 open officer positions, reduced overtime pay and canceled three of the upcoming cadet classes.

The Austin Police Association told media outlets that the class would have been the department’s most diverse.

One of the would-have-been cadets told Fox 7:

“The city is losing what we could’ve been and I think the city’s missing out because we have plenty to offer.”

Another said:

“We’ve been left behind and we feel like we’ve been lied to. We will do anything to serve them, but we’ve been pushed aside and unfortunately, our voices can’t be heard.”

The city’s police chief has said there will be a serious impact on investigations as he rearranges staffing to pull police officers from specialized divisions to work patrol.

The Executive director of Texas’ largest police union, CLEAT, posted on Facebook that unions like CLEAT have warned that cuts to public safety funding could increase crime.

Jennifer Szimanski, Public Affairs Coordinator for the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, said funding that…

Posted by Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, CLEAT on Saturday, August 15, 2020

Charley Wilkinson also told Fox 7:

“The same politicians who beat their chests and screamed about reform are going to be screaming about the fact that the murder rate is up and the police need to do something about it. It’ll be very difficult to sit through that kind of hypocrisy.

“And, activists still want their families protected. They still want their home to be safe. They still want to press the same three little digits and get someone that cares deeply and can probably almost solve any kind of problem.”

Less than three hours north, Houston is adding to its police department, adding 400 new police positions. Houston, along with other cities not bowing to the radical activists, are actively recruiting the would-be cadets that were cast aside in Austin.

That’s not the case in many American towns and cities.

From coast to coast, political leaders are slashing police department budgets and jobs.

In Baltimore, city council members cut $22 million dollars from the police department responsible for protecting civilians in what has been called the most violent city in America.

In Seattle, the police chief announced her resignation after weeks of back and forth with city council members over ordinances limiting the ability of police to disperse crowds and, ultimately, sweeping budget cuts.

In July, Chief Carmen Best wrote to council after they banned less lethal tools, like pepper spray, during demonstrations.

She wrote:

Under these circumstances, as created by Council, we cannot manage demonstrations as we have in the past. If I am not allowed to lawfully equip officers with the tools they have been trained to use to protect the community and themselves, it would be reckless to have them confront this level of violence under the current legal restrictions imposed by Council.”

Chief Best resigned less than one month later after city leaders approved police pay cuts and eliminated more than 100 jobs from the department.

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Here’s more on the backlash on police in Austin.

Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop in downtown Austin has announced that they will discontinue their contract with the Austin Police Department.

The bike shop employees complained to the owners that the police use those same bikes to control violent protestors. Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop is partially owned by bike racing legend Lance Armstrong.

The Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop claims they are “the brainchild” of the racing legend.

KXAN News reported that the bike store is walking out on a $314,000 contract between them and the city. They also have recently taken a Paycheck Protection Program loan somewhere between $150,000 and $350,000.

This contract with the Austin Police Department was for three years with two options to renew.

Mellow Johnny’s has been in business since 2008 and has contracted bikes with Austin Police Department for eight years, as reported by Austin American-Statesman.

On Tuesday, August 4, the bike shop manager called the Austin Police Department and told them the contract between them would not be in effect anymore. Mellow Johnny’s partnered with Trek bikes and Austin PD used the Trek “Service” model bike.

The bike costs $1439 with no options. The Trek bike company’s website states:

“It was built for those dedicated to serving the public, supporting our communities, and preserving our natural resources.”

Austin Police Corporal Christopher Carlisle posted a statement on Facebook on Tuesday August 4, which is no longer on the Facebook thread.

He stated:

“For the past eight years I have had the good fortune of buying and purchasing equipment for the Downtown Area Command Bike Patrol and our bicycle public order team. We have 158 bike officers in DTAC and have been purchasing our bikes from Mellow Johnny’s bike store in downtown Austin, a local business.”

The Austin American-Statesman reported Corporal Carlisle as writing:

“Today I received a call from the sales manager I have worked with for years at MJ’s. He informed me that they have three employees who work for them that are complaining about providing bikes to the police department in this time of social unrest and protests and disturbances.

They stated to ownership that they did not like the fact that we use bicycles to help us manage crowds and crowd movement.”

“The ownership of MJ’s has decided to listen to three employees and is sending APD an email canceling the four years left on our contract because three employees do not like police officers and did not like us in the store.”

“So now an owner of a business chose to lose on of his biggest contracts and listen to three hourly employees. The employees I always talked to at MJ’s were great and we never had a problem, so I don’t know why MJ’s chose this path to go down.”

Corporal Carlisle finished his posting:

“If anyone knows of a bike store that would like to serve the police, I would love to talk to them about our next APD contract.”

The manager of MJ’s released a statement on their Twitter social media platform on Wednesday, August 5.

He tweeted:

“Its entire employee group was engaged in this dialogue and we delved deep into our community to understand how we could best do our part to keep our customers safe and this city moving in the right direction.”

No where in the tweet did it address the how the police used their bikes or the violent protests in Austin. The statement did mention its support for the Austin Police Department.

“We are not anti-police. We do believe our local police force will protect us from the very threats we are receiving right now. We wish this entire community peace and progress and togetherness at the conclusion of these trying times.

And we intend to be a part of the discourse, struggle, and growth for Austin, as we have since we opened our doors in 2008.”


According to the Austin American-Statesman, this is not the first time MJ’s has been caught up in controversy. In 2018, Mellow Johnny’s announced that it stopped carrying bike accessories produced by a company that sponsored the NRA.

Trek bike company recently used the term “abhorrent” to describe the way the police used their bikes during the riots, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

Fuji bike company also recently announced they would be suspending their bike sales to police departments.


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