Far-left city council votes to give themselves a massive raise after defunding police (despite exploding crime)

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AUSTIN, TX – Nearly two years after voting to significantly reduce the police department budget and eliminate recruiting capabilities by eliminating multiple police academy classes, the Austin City Council voted last week to give themselves a hefty pay raise.

They gave their constituents less than two days notice before voting.

They also did not give taxpayers a say in the matter.

This all transpired while the Austin police Department is short 270 operational officers, and the council told them in that same budget meeting that they don’t have the budget to hire many more.

Prior to the vote, the salary of the members was $83,158 annually. Once this approved budget kicks in, the council members will be compensated at a rate of $116,688.

They also voted to include themselves in the city’s retirement program.

This move allows elected to council positions to be vested after a single 4 year term, whether they are reelected or not. These moves come despite the fact that these 10 elected officials are neither city nor full-time employees.

Read that again. The council members are not working in the role full-time. It is a voluntary position that operates in a part-time capacity.

Assuming a 20-hour work week, that means the council members are making $112.20 an hour.

Meanwhile, the very actions of that council have lead to higher crime, increased homeless population and a weakened economy.

Oh…they also voted to give the mayor, Steve Adler, a large raise as well. He got a 37% bump to land at $134,191 every year.

Their justification for paying themselves exponentially more? A market study that they pointed to that illustrated how grossly underpaid they were compared to other metro area city councils across Texas and the nation.

The problem with is, as the Austin American-Statesman’s Bridget Grumet pointed out, the “market study” they used as the basis if the increase did not study or address city council or mayoral salaries.

They only studied council staffer positions, and their salaries.

The council is now the highest paid in the state, when compared to the other metropolitan cities of Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Houston and El Paso (these cities make up the 6 most populated cities in the state).

In fact, the new salaries in Austin are almost twice what their counterparts in Dallas and Houston make, and it is only $6,000 less than what El Paso, San Antonio and Fort Worth make combined.

For the record, Mayor Adler does not take a salary, even though it is afforded to him. But that doesn’t mean his successor won’t.

But as Grumet so eloquently stated:

“The big raises struck some people as tone-deaf at a time when soaring housing costs are continuing to push people out of the city. O

thers suggested this is no time for the council to pat itself on the back, not while the Police Department is struggling to staff its patrols and there aren’t enough 911 operators to answer every call immediately.”

But the council wasn’t done with its own raise, or even that of the mayor. They also voted to make the minimum wage for all city employees $20 an hour, up from $15 an hour.

These raises will cost the city an additional $7M annually.

Should it cost them more, they will cover that cost through the savings of unfilled position salaries, namely the 270 officers that the city of Austin is so desperately needing.

The minimum wage increase was a “meet in the middle” compromise. Unions were demanding $22 an hour. The City Manager proposed $18. They met in the middle at $20. For the hourly employees in the city, that is an annual increase of $10,400.

Yet some question whether the councils moves are tone-deaf given the current economic climate in Austin. As housing prices and cost of living indexes seem to be leveling off in many places, Austin is seeing some of the highest rates for those consumer expenditures when compared to the rest of Texas.

For comparison, we looked at the cost of a specific home built in a sought-after suburb in the Houston area. The home was sold for $418,242, with a luxury pool.

The same home, with the same upgrades (minus the pool), on the exact same size lot in the Austin area is selling for $630,000.

So, yes, out of control homelessness, a vastly understaffed police department, and high cost of living in the city may cause many to view the moves of the city council as tone-deaf.

https://fundourpolice.com/

While the Austin City Council votes to give itself a 40% raise, the Austin PD has been defunded and forced to cut back on the services they provide.

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Massively defunded Austin Police officers to stop responding to non-emergency calls

AUSTIN, TX – With a staffing crisis adversely affecting the Austin Police Department, and also being one year removed from the city council’s vote to defund the police budget by up to $150 million, officials have announced that sworn police officers will no longer be responding to non-emergency calls.

However, not all non-emergency calls will be devoid of some sort of physical response, as Austin Police officials have confirmed that certain calls may result in civilian police employees being dispatched – such as crime scene technicians for evidence collection purposes.

Starting in October, those reporting non-emergencies in Austin can expect to not see a sworn Austin Police officer responding.

Such instances would be reported burglaries that are not actively in progress and/or the suspect has left, and vehicular collisions not resulting in injury.

In these instances, and others like them, instead of Austin residents calling 911, they’re being directed to call 311 to file a non-emergency report.

An Austin Police spokesperson told Fox News that the department “regularly reviews response policies and procedures to ensure APD prioritizes calls with an immediate threat to life or property over non-emergency calls for service.”

The spokesperson named the aspects that influenced the decision on call prioritization for sworn officers:

“As a result of a recent review of APD’s patrol COVID mitigation protocols initiated in May 2020, recent staffing challenges and aligning with the Reimagining Public Safety Task Force patrol response recommendations, APD will change call routing and response for non-emergency calls for service effective October 1, 2021.”

Staffing issues have been long running with the Austin Police department, according to Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday. He stated that it has been nearly two years since Austin Police has had a police academy and there simply aren’t enough officers to respond to these non-emergency calls:

“Probably about 95% of the time our shifts don’t meet minimum staffing…and that is the reason they’ve started cutting back on what types of calls are answered.

It’s not optimal. It’s not providing a quality service to the community. But the community also needs to understand that we’re under a dire staffing crisis.”

Back in August of 2020, the Austin City Council voted to cut the police budget by up to $150 million – a figure that represented over a third of the Austin Police budget – opting to reinvest that money into other public services.

The department has since been somewhat refunded after last year’s cuts, but that refunding has yet to kick in and not every unit cut has been reestablished.

Austin Councilmember Mackenzie Kelly laid blame to “the previous council’s disastrous actions to reimagine public safety,” with respect to the active staffing crisis impacting the Austin Police Department:

“The officers today are overworked and continue to be short-staffed which leads to increased response times across the city. We need to add additional funding to immediately correct this failure for the safety of our city.”

Charles Wilkison, who serves as the Executive Director of Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, mirrored the sentiments Councilmember Kelly, noting that if more funding isn’t directed to the police budget, the staffing crisis will continue to grow:

“The whimsical reimagining of the police department has normalized violence and murder in a once safe and admired city.”

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Police-defunded Austin surpasses a 61-year high with 60th homicide of 2021

(Originally published September 15th, 2021)

AUSTIN, TX – After two homicides early Sunday morning, the Texas city has reached 60 homicides this year, the most in the 61 years that Austin police have kept records.

The record number surpasses 2020 homicides by 25%, when the city saw 48 murders, and broke the previous record of 59 set in 1984.

The record was shattered Saturday morning with two homicides just minutes apart.

Austin officers responded to a call at the El Nocturno Night Club on 7601 N. Lamar Blvd. after reports of gunfire early Saturday morning. They located a man with several gunshot wounds at the scene. The victim was later pronounced dead.

About 10 minutes after the shooting was called in, other officers had to respond to a stabbing reported downtown. Police located a victim suffering stab wounds who later died. No details have been released about the stabbing.

Austin-American Statesman‘s Tony Plohetski tweeted about the shocking homicide rate plaguing the city:

“Austin has recorded its 60th homicide, the most ever in the 61 years that police have kept records. The 60th case — the stabbing of a man downtown early Sunday — marks a 25% increase in last year’s total of 48.”

Plohetski wrote that the homicide rate in the city stands at 6.0 per 100,000 residents using 2020 census data.

According to the data, last year reached 5.0, breaking a record set in 2016 of 4.21.

He pointed out that the department has added more Homicide Detectives to their roster, and it has helped:

“Police have filed charges in 49 of the 60 cases and have recently added more detectives to the homicide unit.”

Interim Austin Police Department Chief Joseph Chacon said Monday during a press conference regarding the homicide rate:

“This really is a national phenomenon. It is something that is being seen by big cities all across the country.

“We are collaborating as cities to determine what the driving factors are for why that’s happening, but it is not something that is unique to Austin.”

Chief Chacon blamed the violent rise in the city on the number of guns circulating in the city, and the release from prison of people previously convicted of violent crimes.

The Interim Chief said he wants to add more police officers on the streets but pointed out staffing issues began long before the pandemic and defund movement. He said that the problem was aggravated by officers contracting COVID-19 and cadet classes being cancelled because of the pandemic.

The Save Austin Now-backed Proposition A, a proposal to add hundreds of officers to the city, will be voted on in November. The Proposition seeks to:

  • Require minimum staffing of two officers per 1,000 residents.
  • Require a minimum standard of 35% community response time.
  • Add 40 hours of training.
  • Require city council members, Mayor Steve Adler, and other city staff to enroll in the Citizens Police Academy.
  • Facilitate minority officer hiring through foreign language proficiency metrics.

https://twitter.com/JudithT06063031/status/1437662873468260354

The proposition is a major turnaround from just a year ago, when the Austin City Council voted to cut the police budget by a third amid the “Defund the Police” movement following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the death of Michael Ramos in Austin.

Austin, like many major cities, is experiencing a surge in violent crimes and homicides since the defund movement was pushed by liberal activists and Progressive Democratic lawmakers.

Save Austin Now co-founders Matt Mackowiak and Cleo Petricek issued a statement supporting the proposition:

“Our city can afford the same number of police officers that the city authorized just two years ago. City Hall may not support law enforcement, but city residents do.”

 

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