Austin Public Safety Commission assigned to Parks and Rec Board to address crime in parks

The Austin Public Safety Commission assigned one of its members to a working group of the Austin Parks and Recreation Board. This comes after a couple of violent crimes were committed recently in popular parks.

Throughout the day, Austin parks are packed with joggers, walkers and bikers, so many are shocked to hear violent crimes have happened in these places, and they want to ensure they're safe.

Less than a month ago, Camnik Campbell was found dead in Zilker Park.


"I was floored because he is the very last individual that you would think would be taken out in this manner. A senseless, violent act," Camnik Campbell's mother Nikki Olton said.

Austin police said Camnik was found around 5 a.m. next to his car that was full of bullet holes.

"My soul is empty, empty empty empty. They took Camnik from us," Camnik Campbell's stepfather Alvis Olton said.

The day before, a middle-aged man was found dead at Auditorium Shores. The investigation revealed the victim died from blunt force trauma to the head.

Austin resident Jenny Thomas and Devon Defoyd said they still walk the trails by the parks often.

"Lots of opportunities for the dogs to play and to meet people and to be outside and enjoy nature," Defoyd said.

They said they've never felt unsafe, but when they come, they are cautious.

"I think just as a woman, we're really aware of our surroundings at all times, so if I'm alone, I don't have headphones in, I'm very aware of my surroundings and I also don't come at night," Thomas said.

In response to the two deaths in popular Austin parks, Public Safety Commissioner Kathleen Hausenfluck has been appointed to a working group of the Austin Parks and Recreation Board to address crime in Austin's parks.

Austin police said one solution is more staff. They said all city parks used to have officers assigned to patrol, but those park police officers have been moved off that duty to aid other departments.

"Oftentimes, they would start early in the morning, and they would patrol the area and show up at the park, you know, just before a lot of the joggers started coming out. That unit that used to exist but has since been disbanded," Austin PD PIO Michael Bullock said.

Austin PD said the incidents were isolated but urges the public to be vigilant and if you see anything, call the Austin Police Department.