City of Kyle votes to invest in police department, not defund it

An open plot of land along Kholer's Crossing is where Kyle will build its new 64,000-square-foot justice center.

On Election Day, with 55% of the vote, a $37 million bond issue to build the center was approved.

"We were very pleased that everybody came out to show their support for law enforcement," said Kyle Police Chief Jeff Barnett.

The pandemic, Barnett admits, had him worried as the proposal was a big-ticket item that could be a hard sell. "I have to tell you we are very appreciative for our Mayor and Council for them choosing to move forward with a bond during these tough times. That showed a lot of courage and a lot of support from our city leaders,” said Barnett.



Groundbreaking is set to take place in February with the center opening in early 2022. Currently, Kyle Police headquarters is located in a remodeled building that was once a bank. The new justice center will provide more space for investigations, victims’ services as well as an emergency operations center. The site is close to a training facility, recently built by ACC, because of that, Barnett says their doors will be open to something else.

"We want this to be a place of collaboration, where are our citizens feel at home where we regularly hold community meetings and we have input, we have collaboration, we have oversight, we have, we want to engage with our citizens and this is going to provide us with a facility that will allow us to do that,” said Barnett.

RELATED: Hays County has record turnout for early voting

Protests earlier this year, in other cities, have called for change. Defunding was never an option in Kyle, according to Mayor Travis Mitchell. "What we've done this year is, we've thought about the problems of tomorrow and we've tried to set those solutions in motion today,” he said.

RELATED: FOX 7 Discussion: City of Kyle looking to invest more in police

A solution voters also approved is a measure to create a police oversight committee, which passed with almost 77% of the vote.

"Given the political climate nationwide, we wanted to make sure we stay really close to our police department, and while the city of Austin may have an Oversight Committee that is making the conversation in Kyle more challenging, we are not basing what we are doing off of the Citizens Committee in Austin,” said Mitchell.

Members of the Kyle City Council will soon start discussing the size, scope, and powers.

"We have questions, about use of force policies questions, about cite and release and general make up of our police department in terms of how it is going about responding in our community,” said Mitchell.

RELATED: City of Kyle calls for $37M bond election for new public safety center

The mayor says Kyle didn’t make these new investments in law enforcement to be a model for other cities. But if successful, he hopes they can help move the national discussion in a positive direction.