While TTAG’s home town of Austin, Texas is a smaller city in a very big red state, it’s run by city officials who aspire to make the capital all that other larger people’s paradises such as San Francisco, Seattle and Portland have become. Austin’s city council took a meat axe to the city’s police budget in August and it’s hardly alone in doing that in this post-George Floyd world.
Cities around the country have cut their law enforcement budgets and demonized the cops still on the job, causing a record number of LEO’s to choose to quit or retire and find other more rewarding forms of employment.
New York, D.C., Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Seattle, Portland, Columbus, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Milwaukee, Santa Fe, Asheville, North Carolina, and Norman, Oklahoma — yes, Norman, OK — to name a few, have or are in the process of cutting their law enforcement budgets and reducing the number of beat cops. This, at the same time allegedly non-violent prisoners have been sprung from jails in many of these same cities to keep the inmates safe from Covid infection.
The result has been entirely predictable: a spike in crime rates and drastically increased response times for emergency calls. You’ve always been your own first responder, but, increasingly, you may have time to order a pizza and watch a movie before a cruiser rolls up to your front door.
The Austin Police Association says understaffing is causing 911 calls to go hours without a response.
According to [Austin Police Association] president Ken Casaday, Saturday night some shifts were staffed at just 50 percent.
“The shift I worked on last night– it’s supposed to have 10 people. We only had five,” says Casaday.
He explains, more APD officers are taking jobs elsewhere and those still serving Austin are stretched thin.
“For several minutes last night we had no officers available to answer 911 calls in the City of Austin because we were just overrun with calls from midnight to 2 a.m.,” Casaday says.
Over the summer Austin City Council voted to cut the police budget by eliminating unfilled positions and temporarily halting cadet classes. Now APA is pointing to increased violent crime.
– Melanie Torre in Police association says officer shortage causing 911 delays