Another City ‘At the Brink of Disaster’ After Defunding Police

Political News

Gee, who could have guessed that defunding the police in your city would cause problems?

Well, residents of Austin, Texas, have discovered just that the hard way. The city has been plagued by police staffing shortages and longer 911-call response times since the Austin City Council voted to defund the police department in 2020.

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Last week, the shortages resulted in a section of the city being completely without any police officers for a few hours.

“Previous councils and leadership have actively worked against our officers and department, which has now put us in a free-falling staffing crisis,” Austin Police Association President Michael Bullock told Fox News Digital. “Twice now we’ve had our contract voted down or it has been allowed to expire. Each year since 2017, we’ve lost more officers than we’ve hired. We had to gut our specialized units and force detectives to work backfill on patrol just to try and respond to 911 calls.”

Last year, the department was on the verge of a staffing collapse after 40 officers filed retirement papers following a 9-2 city council vote to scrap a four-year contract that the city had previously agreed to in principle and instead pursue a one-year contract that the police union’s board had rejected.

“As a result,” Bullock continued, “our staffing has been set back at least 15 years and at the same time we’ve dealt with a population growth of over 250,000 new residents. Combine that with a district attorney who has made it very clear that targeting officers and releasing criminals is his priority – not public safety.”

In 2020 following the Black Lives Matter riots, Austin’s city council voted unanimously to cut up to $150 million from its police department budget — about 34% of its current total — and reinvest the funds in other services. The following year, the Texas Legislature passed a law essentially forcing Austin to restore the funding, but the officer shortage persists.

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Lauren Klinefelter, a resident of Austin, told the outlet that people can no longer count on prompt assistance after calling 911. Klinefelter was unable to get help following a car accident involving her young children in 2022.

“We needed an ambulance and some emergency assistance because not only was my car totaled, but my children were both bleeding and visibly injured,” she explained. “I called 911 and, to my surprise, it rang and rang endlessly, only to be routed to a 311 operator for non-emergencies.”

Related: Biden Really Wants Us to Forget He Used to Support Defunding the Police

Without being able to count on emergency services, she was forced to take a Lyft to a nearby hospital.

“My children were bleeding and over an hour had passed, so with no other option, we got a Lyft to the hospital and back home,” she said. “The police never showed up, I was never contacted by anyone to follow up on the incident.”

Nick Kantor, whose brother Doug was killed during a high-profile mass shooting in Austin in June 2021, believes that Doug would still be alive if the police department had not been defunded. 

The incident occurred when two rival gangs of teenagers engaged in a shootout on Sixth Street, resulting in Doug’s tragic death and injuries to 13 innocent bystanders.The anti-gang task force and other crime prevention measures had been defunded due to concerns about the ethnicity of those targeted by the Austin Police Department. 

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Joe Biden has publicly expressed support for defunding the police in the past. During an interview with activist Ady Barkan in 2020, Biden said, “Yes, absolutely,” when asked if they both could agree that “we can redirect some of the [police] funding.”

He has since tried to distance himself from the movement.

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