A bipartisan nonprofit group in Austin, Texas, is in the process of obtaining petition signatures for an ordinance that would push back on the City Council’s vote last year to slash up to $150 million from the police department. It immediately cut $20 million and has continued to reallocate money.
After taking part in the effort to pass Proposition B — a law that reinstated a camping ban downtown and in surrounding areas — Save Austin Now seeks to address the city’s lurch toward lawlessness and disorder. The Council voted unanimously to cut the budget last August amid the Black Lives Matter and Antifa riots that plagued the country.
Since 2015, Austin has witnessed a 124 percent increase in gun-related crimes. As of two months ago, Interim Police Chief Joseph Chacon said the city could be on track for the most homicides ever in a year. “We haven’t seen these types of homicide rates since the 1990s, and if we continue at this rate there is potential that we could have the most murders that we have ever seen in our city,” said Chacon. “That is not a statistic that we want to see happening.”
“Austin has never been less safe than it is today and we must make Austin safer for everyone who lives here,” Save Austin Now’s co-founders Matt Mackowiak and Cleo Petricek told The Federalist in a joint statement. “The unconscionable 11-0 city council vote in September 2020 cut up to one-third of the police budget ($150 million) and it is having disastrous effects on our city. Homicides are on track to double last year’s all-time record. Our current police staffing level is equal to 2008, when Austin was 45% as large as it is today. Attrition is harming readiness and response times. Police morale is at an all-time low. We cannot recruit, retain, or pay overtime. Thankfully, we can fix this. Mayor Steve Adler and the City Council have once again made our city less safe and they refuse to admit it. We will again clean up their mess.”
The proposed ordinance would require a minimum
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