Every police reform item going before the Austin Council Thursday will win unanimous approval.
That is the message conveyed by council during this week’s work session. In fact, Austin’s Mayor Steve Adler said the only reason they didn’t vote Tuesday is because…legally they can’t. So, Thursday, five resolutions will be get the vote. Council member Greg Casar says the reforms will focus on, “Teargas, on so called impact munitions, of our use of force policies in particular with an eye towards people who are fleeing.”
The council will also set boundaries for the next police budget, which will explicitly include zero funding for any new police officers. And that decision comes as department staffing has remained short by more than 100 for years.
Should City Council follow through with their proposals, the Travis County Republican Party expects crime to skyrocket in the coming months.
Another Council proposal looks to eliminate $100-Million dollars from APD budget and send them to other departments. Travis County GOP chairman Matt Mackowiak points out Austin is about 200 officers below the authorized strength of the force, and added, “we are about 400 officers below where we should be in terms of our population size.”
Council will take that money and reinvest into social service programs with the expectation of that helping tamp down crime and increase equity. Mackowiak called it absurd to think that would be a viable solution because it essentially ignores the fact that real crime does, and will continue to exist in Austin.
As the vote gets closer, the Austin Police Association President called out Mayor Steve Adler.
APA President Ken Casaday said the Council is also targeting APD Chief Brian Manley by asking for his resignation. Casaday said change and reform is needed, but it shouldn’t stop with the department, it should include a change in city leadership on the Council.
Casaday added, he’d rather see Adler bow out, “What in the hell is he doing? He just sits there and gives lip service to everybody, tries to make everybody happy. The man doesn’t have a backbone. He is a coward and he needs to be the one that hits the road.”