APD data shows crime was down year to year, especially downtown
AUSTIN, Texas - Data from Austin police shows in December of 2020, crime was down year-to-year, especially in the downtown area, according to Chief Manley's monthly report.
In the downtown sector, crime was down 4%. Other crimes like robbery and vandalism were also down.
But Governor Abbott s still looking at taking over control of Austin.
Across Travis County since the start of 2021, until now, compared to this time last year, murders, aggravated assaults, and robberies are all up. According to the Austin Police Department’s crime viewer map, there have been six murders, 100 robberies, 240 aggravated assaults, and 414 burglaries reported.
During the same time period last year, there were five murders, 78 robberies, 196 aggravated assaults, and 344 burglaries. "If the council really cared about public safety, they would say, this is nuts," said Mike Levy.
Austin City Council moved to cut more than $150 million, a $20 million cut immediately, from APD’S budget last year. This came with strong disapproval from Governor Greg Abbott.
Wednesday he tweeted out, "Defunding law enforcement invites crime and chaos into our communities. it risks the lives and livelihoods of innocent people."
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The Governor’s Officer provided this statement to FOX 7:
"Austin’s local officials have abdicated their responsibility to ensure the safety of our state’s capital by defunding their police force. Not only are people from across Texas coming to Austin but from all over the country and the world. We have an obligation to step up and protect all who live, work, and visit here. As one of his emergency items this session, the Governor will work with legislators to support our law enforcement, ensure police funding, and create a safer Texas."
Abbott has stated previously he is in favor of the state taking over policing of APD, or parts of the city. Specifically, the area that stretches from "the river to 32nd street," which encompasses UT’s campus and from I-35 to either "Lamar or Mopac."
Joell McNew is with Safehorns and sees the crime specifically around UT and the West Campus area. "We have definitely seen an increase in more serious crimes and that's what's concerning," McNew said.
She said she is on board with the governor’s plan. "We support his safe zone, 100%," McNew said. "At the end of the day, crime is crime and crime impacts the quality of life of all Austinites."
She added having state support, alongside other agencies, would help exponentially. "The collaboration with DPS, UTPD and APD would be phenomenal," McNew said. "Not only from looking at control collaboration, but the technology and the different things that they have to do to improve public safety."
However, not all agree. State House Representative Sheryl Cole said in a statement to FOX 7 Austin:
"The City of Austin once again finds itself as the favorite punching bag of Texas, because our city leaders are willing to take bold action. Taking over the police department, despite an overall reduction in violent crime, is a massive erosion of local control, served with a side of political grandstanding."
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Levy agreed. Saying there would be no real benefit for the people of Austin. "It will not do anything for the majority of people who live in Austin," he said.
Adding that at the end of the day, it’s about feeling safe in your own community. "It's not about politics. It's not about a liberal or conservative democrat or republican. It's about whether people are safe in a community. People have a right to be safe. And to feel safe," he said.
APD was willing to comment, but at the time of publishing was unable to do an interview.