APD and TXDOT meet to discuss ways to stop rock-throwing

Through glass windows on the 3rd floor of City Hall, representatives from the Austin Police Department could be seen meeting with TXDOT and the city's transportation department for a little over an hour on Tuesday.

After the meeting, everyone got up, walked out of the room and without acknowledging the members of the Austin media waiting in the hallway, they just walked through the other door.

So even though no one wanted to go on camera, Austin Police did send us a statement on the meeting saying in part:

APD has worked with various agencies, leading up to this morning's face-to-face meeting. The agencies brainstormed ideas to move forward, including possible preventative measures as well as technology, signage and infrastructure recommendations. Austin has had a total of 54 rock-throwing incidents to date.  All of them are still open and ongoing investigations.

Ed Scruggs is a member of the Austin Public Safety Commission -- a group made up of citizens appointed by council members.

Scruggs says the genesis of the meeting between APD and TXDOT came from a Public Safety Commission meeting a few months back.

"Just during the general discussion of the commission, it came up: 'Is there anything we could do?  Are there nets are there barriers?'" Scruggs said.

It was originally thought the rocks were being thrown from the upper deck on I-35 downtown. 
   
But now, cases have been reported elsewhere on 35 and police think the rocks are being thrown from cars in the on-coming traffic.  A temporary barrier on the highway is one idea that's been mentioned.

"Just to see if there's anything that they can come up with.  What are the options?  Is this realistic at all?  How expensive would it be?" Scruggs said.

Scruggs feels APD is doing everything they can to find whose responsible.

"If people are under the illusion this should be easy to find them, think again.  Because even the video cameras at night don't catch even of an image most of the time," he said.

According to Scruggs, APD is expected to report back to the group at their March meeting.  He says it's possible the result of the meeting may be that an infrastructure solution would be cost-prohibitive.  But he says it's good the idea is being discussed.

"Once this person or these persons are caught, we could have something like this happen again.  And it highlights the inefficiencies in the design of the infrastructure through downtown," Scruggs said.

APD is offering a $10,000 reward for anyone who can help them find out who is doing this. Police say if you feel unsafe on 35, drive in the outside lane instead of the inside. And if your car does get hit by a thrown rock, immediately pull over, call 911 and wait for the officer.
 

 

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