Austin Police brace for big changes as the Austin city council prepares listens to final public comments on the budget today.
Activists, progressives, and self avowed socialists are all championing the local efforts to defund APD by at least $100-million, with some even going as far as demanding 50% of the police budget be slashed and sent to other social needs.
APD Officer Beno Cadena, with the Austin Police Association told Newsradio KLBJ, he understands that change is inevitable, but believes that fast track Austin city leaders are using with the budget decisions is the wrong way to go about these large systemic changes.
Cadenas and other officers agree, there are some 911 calls that they do not need to be a part of, pointing to mental health calls and others where a person just dons’t know how to handle a situation. He said, officers some times get calls to show up at people’s homes to talk there kids into getting onto school buses.
Activists, say those are prime examples of emergency calls that could and should be better handled by either social or health experts, but along with that responsibility should come city funding. They point to APD dollars as a preferred source. Officer Cadenes retorts, that is a conversation that should be held at a negotiating table.
Those supporting the cuts also want to see Police officer positions slashed, agreeing with council and the City manager suggestion of elimination the more than 100 unfilled sworn officer positions and are demanding that the police academy be shut down for a full year so it’s training can be retooled. This would leave APD without replacements for the natural attrition rate of the department.
Officer Cadenas has a problem with losing police positions, as a community outreach specialist, he comes into contact with several community members and local leaders who are dissatisfied with policing, wanting a larger police presence.
Cadenas says in the outskirts of town, business and local community leaders are angry that police are so focused in the downtown core.
CORRECTION:It was previously reported today, City Council would make the final decision on the budget. That is incorrect. Today is the last day for public comment. The City Council has another budget work session August 4th. Budget adoption is expected August 12th.