AUSTIN, Texas - New studies show that Austin is ranked in the top 10 safest large cities in the U.S. But, at the same time, state and federal leaders want change and reform to the Austin Police Department as violent crime has increased the past year.
The FBI's 2019 NIBRS Crime Data Report ranks Austin as the 11th safest city in the U.S. for crimes against a person. It also has the city listed as 12th for crimes against society and 9th against property. The data was pulled from 22 cities all with populations greater than 400,000.
Another study done by MoneyGeek has Austin as the 9th safest largest city.
Mayor Steve Adler said Austin is a safe city. He said that it is not an opinion, it’s in the data. "What we know is that the facts and the data show Austin to be a very safe city, the safest big city in Texas, and one of the safest, big cities in the country," Adler said.
Governor Greg Abbott has proposed a state takeover of the Austin Police Department and now a bill has been proposed that would transfer control to DPS. In a tweet on Monday, Abott said that the proposed legislation is "Just in time for Christmas."
The bill was co-authored by Terry Keel, a former Travis County Sheriff and state lawmaker, and former State Representative Ron Wilson. Abbott tweeted that "One way or another we will pass a law to keep Austin safe."
However, Adler said he believes that the city is already safe. It is about making it safer. "Even while crime statistics are going up in cities, across the country, Austin included, our crime rates per capita are lower than most other cities because Austin is a safe place," he said.
Adler said he would welcome additional state resources, but there needs to be open conversations between public officials to ensure that public safety is the number one priority.
"We need to have serious conversations about public safety, serious conversations about how we make all cities in Texas safer than they already are." Adler said. "And I want to participate in that kind of serious conversation. But, those conversations really need to begin with an accurate representation of what the facts of what the data show."
FOX 7 AUSTIN reached out to Austin Police, but an interview or statement was not given.