Billboards warn travelers in police-defunded Austin to ‘enter at your own risk’


AUSTIN, TX — Following the city council’s decision to defund the Austin Police Department, a police group paid for two billboards warning travelers to “enter at your own risk” and that there is “limited support next 20 miles.”

The Texas Municipal Police Association (TMPA) sponsored the two billboards and had them placed along I-35 showing support for the Austin Police Department. The signs feature TMPA’s logo and a #BackThe Blue hashtag.

In a statement posted to Facebook, TMPA condemned Austin City Council’s August vote to shift resources away from the police department for other social services:

“Today, TMPA released two billboards (pictured below), along Interstate 35, entering Austin, intended to raise public awareness that Austin is a defunded city. This reckless act, a political stunt by the city council pandering to the radical left, will do nothing but endanger the people of Austin.

“As the largest police association in Texas, it is our duty and responsibility to stand up for the brave men and woman of the APD, as well as the other law enforcement agencies with jurisdiction within the city limits which will have less of APDs resources to depend on, and to raise public awareness of the dangers of defunding not just Austin, but any city across the U.S.”

The Austin City Council unanimously voted to cut the city police budget by $150 million and redirect the money to social services.

Council Member Greg Casar defended the vote:

“The message from the tens of thousands of Austinites who made their voices heard in this year’s budget process was clear:

We must decrease our over-reliance on police to handle all of our complex public safety challenges and instead reinvest in domestic violence shelters, mental health first responders, and more.

“That’s what our City Council did—and it’s exactly the work we’re committed to continue.”

The council cut the police department’s budget by a third and announced a redistribution plan of $21 million to fund community resources, $80 million for city services and $49 million to the Austin Reimagine Safety Fund, which promotes non-policing forms of public safety, according to Newsweek.


In an Aug. 13 press release, the City of Austin said the newly adopted budget takes effect Oct. 1, which is the beginning of the fiscal year, and will achieve the following:

“Reduce Austin Police Department (APD) funding by approximately $20 million – taken primarily from cadet classes and overtime – to reinvest in permanent supportive housing and services, EMS for COVID-19 response, family violence shelter and protection, violence prevention, workforce development, and a range of other programs.

“Move a number of APD functions (and related funding of nearly $80 million) out of APD over the course of the fiscal year. These include Forensics Sciences, Communications/911 call center, strategic support, and internal affairs.

“Create a Reimagine Safety Fund to divert almost $50 million from APD toward alternative forms of public safety and community support, to be delivered from outside APD, as determined through the year-long reimagining process.”

The press release noted that the council approved a total police budget of about $290 million, which is down from the $434 million that had been earmarked in the proposed budget.

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Despite slashing funding for the police, the budget will represent an increase for the typical taxpayer, according to the press release:

“Under the adopted budget, typical rate payers will see their Austin Energy bills go down and their Austin Water bills frozen. Austin Resource Recovery charges will increase, by just over $31 per year, to pay for the citywide implementation of curbside organic materials collection.

“Taken together, the combined impact of tax, rate and fee changes would represent an increase, for the typical ratepayer, of 7.9% – an additional $325.20 per year or $27.10 per month.”

The press release noted that $5.1 million will go toward crisis response and victim services.


Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced a proposal that would freeze the property taxes of any city that is considering diverting funds from local law enforcement. At a press conference held in August, he said:

“Cities that endanger residents by reducing law enforcement should not then be able to turn around and go back and get more property tax dollars from those same residents whose lives the city just endangered.”

Newsweek reported that Executive Director of TMPA Kevin Lawrence gave a statement to The Gilmore Mirror, which said:

“One of the core functions of a city government is to provide for the safety of its citizens. With crime rates on the rise, Mayor Adler and the Austin City Council have pandered to the radical left and begun the process of dismantling the city’s police department.

“The safety of Austin citizens and visitors has never been more at risk from dangerous policies propagated by their own locally elected officials. We applaud Governor Abbott’s consideration of a legislative proposal that would put the control of the Austin Police Department under state authority.”

The profile of the official Twitter account for the City of Austin calls itself the “Live Music Capital of the World” and “Breakfast Taco Enthusiasts” and urges to “Keep Austin Weird.” It also tells viewers to call 3-1-1 or 512-974-2000 for help.

The banner photo says, “Stay home. Stay safe.”

Billboards warn travelers in police-defunded Austin to ‘enter at your own risk’
Profile of City of Austin’s Twitter page.

In addition to English, the account posts in the languages of Chinese, Spanish and Vietnamese.

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