Murders are up in Austin, and Gov. Greg Abbott thinks Austin’s decision to reduce its police budget is the reason why. Austin police say the governor is wrong.
“Austin experiences highest number of homicides in 20 years,” Abbott stated on Twitter. “This is why it is absurd that Austin is defunding police. It is also why Texas will act to roll back that defunding and consider taking over policing some areas of Austin.”
With two months still left in the year, Austin has recorded 44 homicides, the highest number of murders in one year in more than two decades.
“I will say that as far as the 2020 numbers, we saw a rise in violent crime in the very early months of 2020, before the Reimagine and defunding conversations came up,” said Austin police Lt. Jeff Greenwalt in the Austin American-Statesman. “I don’t think that we can say that the numbers in 2020 are reflective of that issue.”
Austin City Council voted to redirect more than $150 million of the city police budget to other programs that might also have an impact on crime. Other Texas cities, which have not cut funding for police are also seeing increases in their murder rates, further calling into question Abbott’s claim of a direct link between Austin’s rising homicides and its smaller APD budget.
Houston, which increased its police budget this year, has recorded 345 deaths so far this year, the most killings in 10 years. Dallas, Fort Worth and San Antonio are also on track for 2020 to be among their deadliest years.