There is good news regarding violent crime in Austin, but of course, there’s always a racial hook.
On the surface, Austin’s partnership with the Texas Department of Public Safety seems to be a rousing success.
With Austin short of police officers, the DPS stepped in, and the results – after just one month – show that violent crime is 26 percent lower compared to the same month a year ago.
Cause for celebration, right? This is Austin, so no.
The mostly left-wing city council is concerned that too many arrests are made involving “people of color.” City Manager Jesus Garza, who works for the Council, says:
“If there are unintended consequences to our approach, we must address them immediately.”
Say what? The intended consequences were less crime. But in Austin, the skin color of those stopped seems to matter more.
Random Samplings is brought to you by the Texas Public Policy Foundation at TexasPolicy.com.
By Kasey Johns, Talk 1370 (May 2, 2023)
AUSTIN (Talk1370.com) — Austin City Council members got a briefing Tuesday from the leaders of the Austin Police Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety on the ongoing partnership between the two agencies, which is now one month old.
APD Chief Joseph Chacon and DPS Director Col. Steven McCraw both attended the council work session.
In the four weeks between March 30 and April 27, DPS troopers conducted 11,841 traffic stops in Travis County. By comparison, troopers conducted 17,959 traffic stops in all of 2021, and 18,743 traffic stops in all of 2022.
In a memo to council members, McCraw said the percentage of traffic stops involving black motorists remained consistent between 2021, 2022, and the year-to-date data for 2023. However, the percentage of Latino/Hispanic stops increased from 38% in 2022 to more than 54% in the four weeks since DPS has been assisting APD.
Since the partnership began, DPS has made 780 arrests, including 460 for felony charges. 44 stolen vehicles have been recovered, along with 1.51 pounds of cocaine, 1.31 pounds of heroin, 355.16 pounds of methamphetamines, and 21.91 pounds of marijuana. Troopers have also seized just over two pounds of fentanyl, which could become more than 500,000 lethal doses, along with more than 1,000 pills.
Interim city manager Jesus Garza, in a memo to council members, said the agencies would address any “unintended consequences” of the partnership immediately. “We want to ensure Austinites have no reason to fear that they’ll be racially profiled or targeted by this effort,” Garza wrote. “This continuing collaboration with DPS requires transparency and accountability.”
According to APD data, the department is continuing to see a reduction in violent crime and in calls for service. For the fourth week of the program, violent crimes were 26% lower compared to the same week in 2022, and 35% lower than the week before the partnership began. Calls for service are down 14% compared to the same week last year.
Chacon said the department will provide more data on the kinds of crimes, numbers of calls, and more before the next meeting of the Public Safety Committee on May 22.
Lynn Woolley is a Texas-based author, broadcaster, and songwriter. Follow his podcast at https://www.PlanetLogic.us. Check out his author’s page at https://www.Amazon.com/author/lynnwoolley. Order books direct from Lynn at https://PlanetLogicPress.Square.Site. Email Lynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Three related stories of time travel and alternate realities. (Similar to the one Austin exists in.)