Voters in Austin have rejected a proposal to boost the region’s police force in what is seen as an endorsement of the Texas city’s new policy of scaled-down policing. The proposal, called Proposition A, was backed by the Save Austin Now group which sought public support to increase the number of officers by pointing to growing crime rates in the city.
With 91 percent of the votes counted, 68.4 percent of the votes were tallied against Proposition A while only 31.6 percent supported it. A total of 155,000 votes were submitted. Proposition A would require Austin to have two police officers for every 1,000 residents. At present, the rate stands at 1.6 per 1,000 residents.
Based on the current employment figures, the city would have to hire roughly 300 to 700 additional police officers by next year if Proposition A were to be approved. This would cost the city $54 to $120 million a year at least for the initial first five years.
“Austin answered overwhelmingly tonight. We believe in criminal justice reform. We believe in comprehensive public safety and creating a better city… Tonight’s results show that Austinites have rejected right-wing division and are marching forward to progressive change,” Austin City Council Member Greg Casar told KUT.
Interestingly, billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk warned about Austin’s vote on defunding the police. “Austin should be its city, not a San Francisco copycat,” Musk tweeted. Last year, San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced a reduction of $120 million in police funding, with the money being diverted to African American communities.
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Austin also decided to defund its police department last year following the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests, with the city reducing the police department’s funds by $150 million.
However, things haven’t gone too well on the crime front. According to AH Datalytics, a data analysis firm, homicides in Austin rose by almost 71 percent in the past year, one of the largest increases in the United States.
“Austin has never had more than 59 murders in one calendar year and we are at 75 with two months left, likely doubling last year’s modern-day record… Defund the police has left us with 300 fewer police officers than last year at a time when violent crime is rising. It’s been an epic disaster for our city,” Save Austin Now co-founder Matt Mackowiak, told Fox News.
An advocacy group founded by billionaire George Soros poured $500,000 into a campaign against Proposition A.
The vote against Proposition A came as a report by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) showed that 86 ambush-style attacks were carried out against police officers as of Oct. 31, with 26 officers dying as a result. This is more than double the last year’s numbers where 48 officers suffered ambush-style attacks for the whole of 2020, with 12 officers ending up dead.
In addition, this year has seen 281 officers shot in the line of duty. Gunfire resulted in the death of 52 officers. “Premeditated ambush-style attacks are particularly disturbing and pernicious. These types of attacks are carried out with an element of surprise and intended to deprive officers of the ability to defend against attack…” the report stated
“Premeditated attacks contribute to a worrisome desensitization to evil acts that were once largely considered taboo except by the most depraved,” the report stated.