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‘Shameful’: Reps Blame Progressive Austin District Attorney, City Council For Rising Crime

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  • After the Austin City Council defunded the police, crime rates in the city skyrocketed, according to a press conference hosted by the Homeland Security Committee and local enforcement leaders in Austin Tuesday.
  • Since the Austin police budget was cut by $150 million last year, the city has seen a 96% increase in homicides with about 15-20 officers leaving the force every month, according to the press briefing. Officers said the rise in crime and decreased budget has resulted in low morale within Austin area law enforcement and problems with officer retention and training.
  • There has been a 100% rise in traffic accidents, fentanyl overdoses are up significantly, gangs are on the streets, 911 calls take about 20 to 30 minutes longer to respond to a call than they have in the past, Austin police is down to 1,600 cops from 1,900 as more officers retire and fewer are hired, auto thefts are up almost 100% and the force to fight human trafficking is down by half, said Republican Rep. Roger Williams of Texas.

After the Austin City Council defunded the police, crime rates in the city skyrocketed, lawmakers said at a press conference hosted by the Homeland Security Committee and local enforcement leaders in Austin Tuesday.

“Some of the things we’ve learned today, and it’s not earth-shattering: When you cut funding for police and you make it more difficult (for them) to do their job, bad things happen,” said Republican Rep. John Katko of New York, the ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security.

Since the Austin police budget was cut by $150 million last year, the city has seen a 96% increase in homicides with about 15-20 officers leaving the force every month, according to the press briefing. Officers told the lawmakers at a roundtable before the press conference that the rise in crime and decreased budget has resulted in low morale within Austin area law enforcement and problems with officer retention and training.

Austin has seen a 100% rise in traffic accidents, fentanyl overdoses are up significantly, gangs are on the streets, 911 calls take about 20 to 30 minutes longer to respond to a call than they have in the past, Austin police is down to 1,600 cops from 1,900 as more officers retire and fewer are hired, auto thefts are up almost 100% and the force to fight human trafficking is down by half, said Republican Rep. Roger Williams of Texas.

Texas Republican Rep. Chip Roy said, “Austin is in trouble because of a reckless Democrat city council that is endangering its citizens.”

“Right now there is some little girl moving up I-35, right now as we speak, that is going to be put into the human and sex trafficking trade… because law enforcement is hamstrung,” Roy said.

Roy cited the statistic that “nearly 92,000 Americans died of a drug overdose in the one-year period ending in October 2020,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which he said is a direct result of open borders, the undermining of police officers and the “coddling” of criminals.

Texas Republican Rep. Mike McCaul placed the blame on the city’s district attorney, José Garza, for the rise in crime.

“We have a district attorney now that is more concerned about prosecuting cops than criminals. There is a silent majority here and we are going to start standing up for our police officers,” McCaul said.

He also blamed the massive surge in migrants coming from the border for the uptick in crime.

“If you don’t think for a minute that makes it more dangerous, then you don’t understand law enforcement,” McCaul said. “But these brave men and women behind me do and I want to personally thank them for their courage, standing up to opinion, even though they’re being demoralized every day as they put their lives on the line to protect the great people of this city.”

Another Texas Republican, Rep. August Pfluger, said what he had heard during Tuesday’s roundtable was shameful to the local leadership that has chosen to defund the police. 

He quoted a local police officer who said, “We, in the Austin Police Department, feel like we are on an island by ourselves.”

“For those in Austin, I want you to know that you’ve joined a very dubious list around the country of cities who have defunded (police): Portland, San Francisco and New York,” he said. “You have now joined as one of just a few cities who have chosen lawlessness over personal responsibility and accountability.”

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