AUSTIN, Texas - Violent crime is becoming more visible in Austin, and it's not just optics. It's in the numbers.
"We have almost as many murders right now as we had for all of 2020 and we are only halfway through the year," said Cary Roberts, executive director of The Greater Austin Crime Commission.
In the Austin police chief's latest monthly report, they reported a spike in murders and aggravated assaults.
"Compared to the same period last year, murders are up 79 percent, aggravated assaults are up 15 percent and burglaries are also up," said Roberts.
Roberts believes these are categories that should concern the community. The crime commission said staff shortages are partly to blame. He believes council needs to rethink their efforts.
"Does it make sense to eliminate police positions when crime is rising and response times are slower?" said Roberts.
Police reform advocate and Austin City Council member Natasha Harper-Madison wasn't available to comment Wednesday, but FOX 7 Austin spoke to her about this issue over a month ago.
"More officers doesn't mean more safety. Tarrytown isn't any safer than East Austin because that's where all the officers are. It's about community investments and access to opportunities," she said on May 27.
"Our attrition rate is much higher than expected. I think that was one of the unintended consequences of the budget cuts last year," said Roberts.
Not only are violent crime rates soaring, but emergency response times are also slowing. Roberts said the target time for police to meet when responding to an emergency is 8.5 minutes. That is now closer to 10 minutes.
"In an emergency situation that minute or more can seem like a lifetime. Response times are definitely being impacted by the staffing crisis," he said.
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