APD meeting with TxDOT about rock-throwing

The Austin Police Department is looking for new ways to fight rock-throwing along I35. That involves meeting with the Texas Department of Transportation.

APD announced they will be meeting with TxDOT on February 9th. They hope to hear their potential solutions to this ongoing problem. In the meantime, authorities say those who are concerned should drive on the outside lanes.

Within a year and a half, APD says we've had nearly 60 rock throwing cases. Frustration has grown over the past few months.

"We just need to talk about doing some fencing all along I35. How far down south and north to go? I mean, I don't know. We've got to start somewhere but something's got to change," says Kevin Morales, husband of victim.

The Austin Police Department is working on making new changes. Initially, cases were limited to the upper and lower deck of I35. At that time, they thought rocks were coming from the overpass.

Now, authorities say they are coming from opposing traffic, which is why they are turning to the Texas Department of Transportation.

"That is their jurisdiction along the highway. So we're really going to rely on them to tell us what is a viable solution: short-term, long-term. What we can do to try and prevent this going forward?" says Asst. Chief Chris Mcilvain, Austin Police Department.

At the Public Safety Committee meeting on Monday, an update on rock-throwing was listed on the agenda. That update was the February 9th meeting with APD and TxDOT. The problem is that cases are no longer isolated to one section of I35.

"I don't know the exact length of highway that comes through Austin but that would obviously be a very lengthy, time-intensive and most likely an expensive endeavor. We really need to hear from TxDOT if that is a viable solution and if so, how do we move forward with that kind of project?" says Asst. Chief Mcilvain.

The Public Safety Committee isn't all in agreement with taking a look at rock-throwing.

"Policy issues, budgetary matters, long-range planning. Specific issues related to say a crime or an investigation or a particular problem, don't really fall into our purview unless they indicate some longer term problem," says Kim Rossmo, Public Safety Committee Chair.

"What it brings to mind is, just the overall infrastructure deficiencies of I35 through downtown. Some of us discussed things we've experienced in other cities. For example, I know in Minneapolis, they have landscaping and trees in the middle or plants or something along that line so you can't toss things over," says Ed Scruggs, Public Safety Committee Commissioner.

Either way, they can all agree that rock-throwing is a concern. It isn't unique to Austin though. It's happening all over the country.

"We are having our detectives reach out to other agencies that have dealt with similar issues to see, did they solve the crime? What kind processes and procedures do they have investigatively to help them resolve their situation," says Asst. Chief Mcilvain.

APD says if you become a victim quickly call 9-1-1. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to prove.
 

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