Yet Another Democrat-Run City, Austin TX, Is Learning that 'Defund the Police' Doesn't Work

AP Photo/Eric Gay

After the death of George Floyd in 2020, the call to "defund the police" was heard in dozens of Democrat-run cities all over the nation. It didn't take long for most of those cities to reap the rewards of that absurd idea, including Minneapolis, where it all began. In 2024, soaring crime rates will no doubt be an issue in the presidential election. And because of the soft-on-crime Biden administration and Soros-backed district attorneys, you can add one more city to the list of those being destroyed by the defund the police movement: Austin, Texas.


Texas might not be as red as some midwestern states. But former Gov. Rick Perry had a perfect description of Austin, calling it a “blueberry in the tomato soup.” The city has not had a Republican mayor for thirty years, and now Austin residents are feeling the fallout from the defund the police movement. Staff shortages are forcing 911 callers to be put on hold, and the crime rate continues to tick upward. Thomas Villarreal is president of the Austin Police Association. During a recent appearance on "Fox & Friends," he put the blame squarely at the feet of the city council and said that they are "neglecting" local law enforcement. He stated, "We just continue to have a city council that doesn't show its police officers that [it] cares about them." 

But Austin's policing problems began long before anyone heard of George Floyd. In 2017, the Austin City Council rejected the police contract for the first time. But in 2018, in typical liberal fashion, the city decided they would do something called "reimagining police oversight." What could go wrong there? Plenty, but police officers were able to get back under contract. Then along came the summer of 2020. In Austin alone, 20 officers were indicted for what Villarreal says was "doing their jobs" during protests following Floyd's death. That was when Austin followed in the footsteps of many other Democrat-run cities and slashed the police budget by $150 million, roughly one-third of the entire budget.


Putting the police budget on the chopping block did nothing to help a city that, in the last six years, has lost around 800 officers. In April, a WalletHub study showed Austin's homicide rate as the 15th highest in the nation. It's no wonder that Thomas Villarreal describes a police department stretched extremely thin. He told the "Fox & Friends" crew: 

"I've got about 1,475 officers in our police department and, you know, we're moving in the wrong direction. There's less and less and less resources to go out and do the job. I've got detectives who are pulled away from their caseload to just help answer 911 calls because we just don't have the resources to adequately police the city."

And it's not just individual citizens of Austin feeling the effects. Business owners say because of the lack of police response, they feel less safe, and they say it is driving away customers. Laura North is the co-owner of a hair salon and said, "You kind of feel helpless knowing that the police are going to take so long to arrive." Daniel Schwieterman owns a jewelry store and also appeared on "Fox & Friends" last August and complained about the time it took to get a police report. he said, 


"311 [non-emergency number] is not working. A jewelry store should not take 10 days to get a police report. This is for sure not working. You take away the police force and then ask us all not to have weapons or anything in our stores to protect ourselves. The crime rate is going to go up."

But Austin's latest Democrat Mayor, Kirk Watson, appears to not see any problem. Up until last month, the Austin Police Department was being assisted by Texas Department of Safety officers, who were responding to emergency calls to help out. Watson had praised the cooperation saying that the crime rate had gone down and response times had improved just two days earlier. But Watson has now suspended that partnership. His reason for ending a solution that was clearly working for Austin's residents and businesses? It didn't line up with "Austin's values." What may be closer to the truth is that the partnership did not line up with Austin's left-wing anti-police activists.

Austin, Texas, is learning the hard way the answer to the question: How's that defund the police thing working out?



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