Austin police, Texas DPS give update on partnership to Austin City Council
AUSTIN, Texas - Austin City Council was briefed on the Austin Police Department and Texas DPS partnership. It's a partnership that was put in place a month ago to help with the police staffing shortage.
"We have to have that transparency if we want to build a sustainable, strategic way forward that addresses the shared goals that we all have," said Alison Alter, District 10 council member.
This comes days after the Travis County Attorney’s Office released demographic data revealing nearly 90% of misdemeanor arrests made by DPS were people of color.
"We don't want people to feel like they are a target or there is racial profiling going on," said Mayor Kirk Watson.
Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon says the department assigns the 100 DPS troopers available to where the most violent crime is seen each week. DPS Director Steven McCraw says the misdemeanor arrests data aligns with where APD assigned them.
"If you look at the numbers, you can see that it's consistent with the demographics of the city, in the county, you know, up until we began this operation," said McCraw.
- Nearly 90% of DPS misdemeanor arrests are people of color, data shows
- Texas DPS troopers make over 90 felony arrests since joint operation with APD
- Data from first two weeks of APD, Texas DPS partnership presented to city council
Chief Chacon says APD and DPS are willing to strategize how this partnership runs to avoid any idea that they are targeting certain groups of people.
"I very much plan to do that so that we are not having a disparate impact on our communities of color," said Chief Chacon.
McCraw added DPS is here to help APD during its staffing shortage. He says troopers are not here to make anyone scared.
"You should feel safe, not threatened. You should feel like finally we've got some protection from us," he said.
Council reiterated they are for this partnership, but something has to change.
"There are areas where I think that this operation could really make a difference and be effective, but it simply cannot be at the expense of our, again, our eastside communities where we're seeing a disproportionate amount of ticketing happen," said Vanessa Fuentes, District 2 council member.
The next update on the APD and DPS partnership will be May 22 at the Public Safety meeting.