AUSTIN, Texas — On Monday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced he’s made a new move on a threat he’s repeated throughout the year: to take away control of the Austin Police Department from city council and give it to the state.
Back in September, Abbott expressed his displeasure with Austin City Council’s decision to cut $20 million from APD’s budget, in addition to transitioning $130 million out over a year. The council’s decision came after their disagreement with the way police handled summer demonstrators along with the “defund the police” movement that caught traction with liberal politicians around the country.
The move was condemned by Abbott, who called it “disrespect for law enforcement” that would invite chaos and endanger the public, KXAN reported.
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The governor received a legislation proposal in September that would allow cities with over 1 million residents and fewer than two police officers per 1,000 to have its police department consolidated with the Texas Department of Public Safety.
As a result, this would encompass Austin, which was the focal point of the legislation.
On Monday, Abbott followed up on these considerations, tweeting: “Just in time for Christmas: The Legislative Council has sent draft language for a proposed law that would transfer control of the Austin Police Department to the Texas Department of Public Safety. One way or another we will pass a law to keep Austin safe.”
Just in time for Christmas:
The Legislative Council has sent draft language for a proposed law that would transfer control of the Austin Police Department to the Texas Department of Public Safety.
One way or another we will pass a law to keep Austin safe.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) December 21, 2020
Just days earlier, the governor promised to pass the legislation in the upcoming session, according to KXAN.
“The state will fix this,” Abbott wrote on Twitter. “Texas will pass a law this session supporting law enforcement and defunding cities that defund the police.”
The potential transfer of power comes as APD reports a rise in crime in the city this year. The department says the murder rate increased by 55% over 2019.
Furthermore, City of Austin statistics indicate murders were up by 54% in July and aggravated assaults were also up by 17%.