The threat against Austin Police was posted Sunday. It was made on a twitter account which stated that officers on 6th Street would be shot at 11:00 p.m. Wednesday evening. During an afternoon briefing, APD Assistant Chief Brian Manley said the person who made the post has not yet been identified, but the threat has been ruled not to be credible.
"However, we are taking it seriously we have adjusted our staffing models for this weekend, we will have extra resources brought to bear so that we are ready in case there is anything to this,” said Manley.
APD was not the only local police department mentioned in the social media post. FOX7 was told several other police departments in Central Texas were also mentioned in the tweet. The twitter account where the death threat was posted has been deleted, despite that, the search for the person who made the post is still underway.
The threat against APD was referenced in a memo issued Tuesday by Chief Art Acevedo.
It detailed part of the security ramp up mentioned by Assistant Chief Manley. Chief Acevedo declared a staffing emergency citing the attack in Dallas, a spike in crime in Austin, and the death threat. He ordered all patrol shifts to be filled 100%, and warned if not enough employees volunteered - officers would be “mandated to fill the remaining shifts."
For Austin Police officers, working 6th Street is always a high risk patrol. It’s not uncommon for them to spend a lot of time breaking up fights, respond to robberies and deal with confrontational drunks.
“There is no need to stay away from 6th Street this evening or any evening, and I would give the advice like I would on any other evening, be aware of your surroundings, stay in control of your faculties, be with other individuals and be alert,” said Manley. The threat comes at a time when APD has increased enforcement in the entertainment district. They're cracking down on petty crime and vagrancy.
People who live and work downtown tell FOX7 they will not avoid the area because of what’s happened.
"You can't let fear be a determining factor in how you live your daily life,” said Rachael Fortenberry.
Nancy Hammond, who lives downtown, said she always tries to be aware of her surroundings while out walking. "It would be terrible if I felt like I had to hunker down in my flat because of what’s going on, I just won’t live like that."
This past Friday Chief Acevedo voiced his concern about a possible threat. "This is not a joke."
His concern prompted a warning.
"There are some limits to the First Amendment, and when you start making Terroristic Threats , don’t be surprised when you have officers knocking at your door, don’t be surprised when you have officers knocking at your place of work, don’t be surprised when you have officers finding you, and investigating your intent,” said Chief Acevedo.
Despite the threat, and staffing crisis, a group of Austin Police officers will soon head out of town. APD made a commitment to help the Cleveland Police Department with the upcoming Republican Convention.
A study regarding APD’s staffing level is expected to be completed by the end of the month. The report will be issued just as the City Council starts working on the budget.