AUSTIN, Texas - Dr. Bill Spelman has done research on police work and criminal justice for 40 years. He says Prop A won't do anything to change the homicide trend Austin is seeing.
Austin hit 60 murders so far this year, breaking a city record. Prop A will hire more officers, but Spelman said more cops doesn't necessarily mean more safety.
"We know from experience with other cities that just putting more police officers on the street isn't going to do much with homicide. It may do some good for auto thefts, it may reduce burglaries a little bit," said Spelman.
Spelman said his data has shown that this trend is happening all over the country, and there is no correlation between cops on the street and homicide rates.
"The best solution to a homicide problem depends a lot on the specific kind of homicide problem you've got. If it's fights in bars you have to work with bar owners to change the stuff that happens in bars. If it's domestic violence you have to help the families figure out a different way of working together," said Spelman.
But supporters of Prop A beg to differ. "We support Prop A because it meets the nation benchmark of staffing for officers," said Joell McNew, president of SafeHorns.
McNew says students are constantly concerned about their safety and hope to see more cops on patrol.
"Our area is the fourth most densely populated zip code in the state, yet our lighting doesn't meet standard. There is no crime prevention by environmental design. So there is no community policing either because we don't have the staffing now," she said.
Spelman and Prop A opponents insist on a comprehensive approach to public safety. "We need something more proactive than just putting more police officers on patrol and reducing response times. We need to engage the whole community," said Spelman.
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