AUSTIN, Texas - It was just two weeks ago that the Austin City Council voted to immediately defund just more than $20 million in APD funding and reimagine another $130 million. Since then, state grants were up for grabs.
“Most of the grants incorporated today were related to victim support and some pretty positive services,” said Jimmy Flannigan, District Six.
The city council voted to accept all but one of them, which was postponed.
“The safe neighborhoods grant got postponed. There are valid questions about the level of policing and where we are focusing that policing and whether or not those communities are really getting the thing they are asking for,” said Flannigan.
Just to get an idea of what these grants are. One is called Victims of Crimes Act which will be providing mental health and practical intervention for crime victims. Another is called the First Responder Mental Health Program, for the well-being of officers and other first responders. Another is called the Violence Against Women Act. Flannigan said the amount of money in these grants may not be large, but they are valuable.
Generic image of police lights.
“Compared to the size of the police budget, $400 million, they are pretty small,” he said.
There were a handful of speakers who got on the line to support the acceptance of these grants, while also demonizing council for defunding APD earlier this month.
Council also approved the expansion of mental health services in 9-1-1 dispatch centers.
“What we are looking at is handling more of that triage over the phone by having more mental health responders at 9-1-1 and being able to send mental health responders out without having to burden police resources,” said Flannigan.
The city has already been using a pilot program, sending mental health responders out on calls, but now, they say they will save taxpayer dollars by having a triage system inside the dispatch center.