Today, the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s experts weighed in on the Austin City Council’s plan to cut its police budget by $150 million.
“The city of Austin has gone about this in exactly the wrong way—making a politically driven decision to ‘defund the police’ before carefully studying the department’s resources and needs,” says TPPF’s Randy Petersen. “Indiscriminately cutting the public safety budget will only serve to make our city less safe. We are already amidst an increase in crime and the planned cuts will, as Gov. Greg Abbott noted, ‘pave the way for lawlessness.’”
Budget items being slashed include various special operations, traffic enforcement, and investigations. Reductions-in-force will be achieved through canceling cadet classes and attrition.
“By cutting things like lake patrols, mounted patrols and park police, the city is decreasing police presence and reducing officers’ roles in the community,” says Derek Cohen, Ph.D., director of TPPF’s Right on Crime campaign. “The proven principles of community policing say that when officers are familiar faces in the community, crime goes down and compliance goes up. The Austin City Council’s plan will damage this visible and valuable function of our officers, allowing their presence in a neighborhood only when something is going wrong. Even worse, drastically reducing APD’s resources while demanding better training creates an untenable situation.”
The city isn’t truly cutting its budget, Cohen added. Instead, it plans to reallocate those funds.
“Even if, after a careful audit of its budget and priorities, the city of Austin had found ways to trim the police department’s budget (without putting public safety or our officers at risk), it’s a mistake to squander those dollars to fight culture war battles such as providing access to abortion and misguided gun control efforts,” he said.