Texas State Troopers Will Stop Patrolling Austin Amid Rising Crime Rates

AP Photo/Eric Gay

Amid concerns about rising crime rates in Austin, TX, the city decided to end its collaboration with state law enforcement. As major cities all across the country have been grappling with handling illegal activity, this move is sure to raise some eyebrows.

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On Saturday, it was reported that the Texas state troopers would no longer patrol Austin for violent crime.

The Texas Department of Public Safety's Austin Violent Crimes Task Force will no longer patrol the city, starting this weekend. These state troopers were tasked with addressing violent crime and supporting an understaffed police department.

The partnership between the Austin Police Department and DPS began in March and was temporarily suspended in May for state troopers to address border security after the expiration of Title 42, a holdover migration policy from the Trump administration.

The initiative was relaunched a few weeks later but lasted only 10 days before the city and APD formally ended the initiative. State troopers continued to patrol the city as part of their assignment.

The program was not without criticism as members of the community alleged state troopers were racial profiling while they patrolled the city. But then-Police Chief Joseph Chacon defended the officers.

The Department of Public Safety told another news outlet that it will be devoting more of its efforts to the southern border. As RedState reported, Gov. Greg Abbott recently signed legislation that would make it a state crime to cross the border illegally.

On Monday, Texas' Republican Governor Greg Abbott signed into law SB 4, which effectively makes illegal entry into Texas a state-level crime. This would allow enforcement by Texas state police and local law enforcement.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas signed into law Monday a bill that makes entering Texas illegally a state crime, an extraordinary step in the hard-fought legal battle between the state and the federal government over efforts to curtail illegal immigration.

The measure, SB 4, grants local law enforcement the power to arrest migrants and judges the ability to issue orders to remove them to Mexico. It has sent ripples of fear throughout the Latino community in Texas, which makes up 40% of the state’s population, and was condemned by civil rights organizations and immigration advocacy groups after the Texas legislature passed it last month. 

The law is expected to take effect in March.

Constitutional objections are already being raised by Texas Democrats; immigration is an issue that, under the Constitution, is enforced by the federal government, but it is something of an understatement to note that, for the last few years, such enforcement has been inefficient and in some locations non-existent. Since President Biden took office, there have been 7.5 million illegal immigrant "encounters" nationwide, 6.2 million encounters at the Southwest border, and 1.7 million known "gotaways."

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The are several different aspects of this development that warrant attention.

For starters, with DPS focusing on border security, it would allow the state to put more energy into managing the border crisis more strategically. Being that the Biden administration appears not to be interested in addressing the problem, Texas will have to pick up the slack.

There have been concerns about racial profiling and overly aggressive policing tactics in Austin for years. The APD has implemented several reforms to address these issues. While there have been complaints about how state law enforcement has operated in the city, it is not clear how pervasive the profiling issue has become.

This development means that local law enforcement can take more control over their jurisdictions, which would make for more localized and tailored crime-fighting strategies. The Austin police academy will be graduating new cadets after dealing with a yearslong shortage of officers. This could also help to offset the understaffing issue.

On the other hand, crime in Austin has become an urgent issue – especially when it comes to violent and property crimes.

For Austin, we found that the violent crime rate is one of the highest in the nation, across communities of all sizes (both large and small). Violent offenses tracked included rape, murder and non-negligent manslaughter, armed robbery, and aggravated assault, including assault with a deadly weapon. According to NeighborhoodScout's analysis of FBI reported crime data, your chance of becoming a victim of one of these crimes in Austin is one in 191.

In addition, NeighborhoodScout found that a lot of the crime that takes place in Austin is property crime. Property crimes that are tracked for this analysis are burglary, larceny over fifty dollars, motor vehicle theft, and arson. In Austin, your chance of becoming a victim of a property crime is one in 28, which is a rate of 36 per one thousand population.

Importantly, we found that Austin has one of the highest rates of motor vehicle theft in the nation according to our analysis of FBI crime data. This is compared to communities of all sizes, from the smallest to the largest. In fact, your chance of getting your car stolen if you live in Austin is one in 210.

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The rise in crime is the reason why state troopers had gotten involved in the city in the first place. The issue isn’t law enforcement as much as progressive district attorneys prioritizing violent criminals over the residents they victimize. Jose Garza, the district attorney for Travis County, has come under fire for taking a soft approach to violent and property crime.

A district attorney for one of Texas' metros could be in jeopardy of losing his job. The Travis County District Attorney José Garza is facing a civil lawsuit under a new state law that could remove him from office, according to Fox 7.

An Austin-area resident has filed the lawsuit in accordance with legislation passed by Texas lawmakers in the spring to hold "rogue district attorneys" accountable. The Travis county resident named Jason Salazar filed the petition on November 30 to remove Garza from office on the grounds of incompetency and misconduct, according to The Texan.

Among the multiple allegations in the suit, Salazar is alleging that Garza's office has adopted a policy that singles out law enforcement when presenting charges against them to a grand jury and that the DA maintains a "do not call to testify" list of officers, according to The Texan. The petition also accuses Garza's office of refusing to prosecute certain criminal laws including some drug offenses.

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While the city is working to replenish its law enforcement staff, the rise in crime remains an issue. One could argue that it would make more sense to wait until Austin has a full staff of officers before removing state troopers.

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