AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - Austin Police Chief Brian Manley had a big smile on his face Friday surrounded by East Austin community members as he announced “The Riverside Togetherness Project.”
The department received a million dollar grant from the U.S Department of Justice to fund the initiative aimed at reducing crime and revitalizing the Riverside area. "This is a priority for the department, Austin is the 5th safest city when it comes to violent crime,” Manley said. “I say often depending on where you are in Austin you may or may not feel like you are in that 5th safest city."
In 2016 the department reviewed citywide Uniform Crime Report data and found four percent of crime in Austin happens in the East Riverside area.
Chief Manley added the area primarily faces violent and property crime.
District 3 Council Member Pio Renteria weighed in and said the new project was needed. "We've been having an ongoing problem with the riverside area,” Renteria said. “I have firsthand been down there and seen what the transits have done in this area. There's prostitution going on, there’s drug dealing going on and we must put a stop to that."
The police department will work with residents, community leaders and non-profits to implement evidence based policing. The project will include a research team from the University of Texas at Austin. The researchers will gather data and help the department problem solve.
RGK Center of Philanthropy and Community Service Director, David Springer said the team will help evaluate target hot-spot for officers to determine which areas are more problematic than others. "Many of the issues we are facing are ones that we know from research and know from previous work together that we can't just arrest our way out of," said Springer.
MEASURE a non-profit research and education based organization will also be partnering up with APD to ensure the community is heard and respected through the program. Chief Manley said the project’s focus will not only be on crime reduction but building trust within the community and revitalize the eastside.
If successful, the department hopes to use this model as a blue print for other Austin communities.