AUSTIN, Texas - Austin is known to be a safe city, but there is a concern that threatens that status: a substantial rise in violent crime, particularly murders.
As of Friday, we sit at 23 in the fourth month of 2021.
"We haven't seen these types of homicide rates since the '90s. If we continue at this rate there is potential we could have the most murders we've ever seen in our city," said interim Austin police chief Joseph Chacon.
The department is now launching a new initiative, calling it a violence intervention program, or VIP for short. It will run between now and Aug. 31, extending longer if they see a need.
"The reason for this program is due to the increase of the use of firearms in serious violent crimes," said Chacon.
Chacon said from 2015-2020, Austin saw a 124 percent increase in gun crime. He said the plan to fight this will include police from several units including the organized crime division, firearms, unit, and homicide.
"It’s a data-driven and evidence-based operation where we will be using our crime analysis section to provide timely information to those officers and that will drive the operation to find those specific individuals that are committing these crimes," said Chacon.
The initiative has garnered support from federal partners such as the ATF and local support from district attorney Jose Garza, and county attorney Delia Garza. Chief Chacon is hoping police can stop these criminals in their tracks, so crime may not grow right along with the city's population.