117 illegal guns in downtown district seized by Austin police in 2021
AUSTIN, Texas - The Austin Police Department said they have seized 117 guns in the downtown area this year.
All of the weapons were being used or carried illegally at the time they were taken by police.
"Those are handguns, rifles, there was a shotgun mixed in there as well," said Commander Jeff Greenwalt who oversees the downtown area patrol region. "117 guns taken before the crime occurred, you can just imagine how many shootings that might’ve equalled to if they hadn’t gotten to them."
The weapons seized fall into several categories. They were either displayed recklessly, pointed at someone, carried by someone who has a court order restricting them from having a gun or brought into an establishment that doesn’t allow guns.
"Right now, what we’re doing is, we’re just trying to make the city as safe as we can with the staffing that we have, and that means going out every day and doing the best that we can with what we have," said Greenwalt.
Earlier this year, APD started a Violence Intervention Program as a response to the increase in violent crime in areas of the city, including shootings in the entertainment district.
"I think, in general, the United States is seeing an increase in violent crime. It started in early 2020 and it’s extended to today," Greenwalt said.
Still, Greenwalt said he believes the downtown area will be a safe place for the thousands of people who visit each night.
"2020 and 2021 have been a little rough, but we continue to just show up to work and do the right thing that we need to do, because we came to be police officers for a reason. We want to help people, we want to make the community safe and we believe in that," said Greenwalt.
Currently APD says they are able to staff the downtown district at 100 percent, although that sometimes means other parts of the city are not fully staffed.
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