“Some cities are more focused on political agendas than public safety,” Abbott said in a written statement. “Austin’s decision puts the brave men and women of the Austin Police Department and their families at greater risk, and paves the way for lawlessness.”
The Austin City Council voted unanimously to cut its police department budget by $150 million on Thursday, the Texas Tribune reported.
“This moment has been born out of a lot of hurt in the community,” Austin City Councilman Greg Casar said during the council’s Thursday meeting. “We know we have a long way to go.”
Casar crafted the three-tiered plan to cut the police department budget by about one-third of its total $434 million budget. His plan calls to immediately slash around $20 million. The funds will be reallocated to abortion and food access programs.
The plan also calls for $80 million to be diverted over time to move divisions from the police department to civilian functions including forensics, support services, and victims’ services. Another $50 million will go to a “Reimagine Safety Fund” to create alternative forms of public safety, according to Breitbart.
The council’s proposal also would eliminate 150 vacant officer positions.
Late last month, Austin City Councilman Jimmy Flannigan made headlines by calling for the “expedited demolition” of the Austin police headquarters building, Breitbart Texas reported.
“We should expedite the demolition of the APD Headquarters by directing the city manager to move all remaining APD staff out of the existing headquarters building and into other underutilized city facilities,” Flannigan wrote in his plan posted on AustinCouncilForum.org.
Mackenzie Kelly, Flannigan’s opponent in an upcoming city council election, said of the proposed demolition in an interview with The Hayride political blog: “Nothing is more symbolic of recent efforts to de-fund the police than this scheme to demolish Austin Police Headquarters . . . If anyone for even a second thinks that these proposals are designed to save money or increase accountability, remember that Jimmy Flannigan is now proposing swinging a wrecking ball at the very heart of law and order in our city.”
In a Facebook post, Kelly called Flannigan’s proposal “reckless and completely unthinkable.”
In his statement, Governor Abbott vowed that the “Texas Department of Public Safety will stand in the gap to protect our capital city.”