AUSTIN, Texas - UT and APD police patrols were visible throughout West Campus Friday morning. Soon state troopers will join the security patrols.
In a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott, UT Police Chief David Carter formally accepted the help. “We welcome having those troopers come in,” said Carter.
On Friday during a Zoom call, Chief Carter explained he is worried that recent decisions by city leaders have reduced coverage by APD.
“If there is insufficient APD manpower, that creates a void and when you have a void, where you don’t see police, then there is more likely to create opportunities for bad things to occur. Such as these students who were apparently walking at night and we’re robbed,” said Carter.
Reports of a recent spike in crime, specifically four incidents possibly committed by the same group of people, prompted Abbott to step in. He announced on social media Thursday a new trooper deployment. In an attached statement Abbott said;
"The recent string of robberies in West Campus, including a violent home invasion, are unacceptable and the State of Texas will not tolerate violent crime in our communities. These extra patrols provided by DPS will help keep students safe and deter criminals from preying upon innocent people. Nothing is more important than the safety and security of our communities, and the state will continue to provide resources to put an end to these attacks and robberies."
This is not the first time that the governor has sent troopers into Austin. He did it in January after a fatal stabbing at a sandwich shop by a transient and in June after protests escalated into acts of vandalism at several downtown businesses including damage at the state capital.
Many students on campus Friday were focused on the upcoming football weekend, but a few like Jasmine Lopez were aware of the deployment. “I think it might be too much, I’m not sure if it’s overstepping or not, Necessarily. I would say there is definitely an uptick in criminal activity,” she said.
Friday morning, the only extra law-enforcement activity seen by FOX 7 Austin crews were involved in a health emergency call. In the past week, several food trailers were broken into, according to Addison Neikirk who runs a coffee shop near 24th St.
“I’m out here 10 hours a day and when I see things go down on the street and there’s no one around I do kind of wish somebody was more readily available,” said Neikirk.
Details about the West Campus trooper deployment have not been released. It comes after the Austin city council and mayor, earlier this year, cancel police academy classes and voted to redistribute money away from APD’s budget. With his letter to the Governor, Chief Carter noted that there was a large cluster of students who live on the northwest and southeast sides of town.
The chief said he wasn’t asking the Governor to specifically expand the deployment to those locations. “No I’m actually not, I’m actually not requesting the governor to take action, other than to say that we support however and whatever support can come in,” said Chief Carter.
The Chief did indicate the red flag he was raising was for someone else: city leaders. “I’m just pointing out police presence matters, not simply in West campus, its where, it certainly does but actually elsewhere, where our students live and work,” he said.
The university is spending money to enhance security measures in West Campus. A new satellite office is about to open and a network of surveillance cameras will be installed. However, all of that is not expected to start going online until later this fall.