A ballot measure aimed at increasing the number of police officers in the city of Austin, Texas was defeated in Tuesday’s election after hundreds of thousands of dollars was spent against it by George Soros, unions, and other organizations from outside of Texas, as reported by Fox News.
The question before voters, known as Prop A, would have required the city to hire two police officers for every 1,000 residents, and would subsequently increase officer training to accommodate the new hires. The measure was put on the ballot in response to a surge in violent crime in the wake of last year’s violent race riots, and a subsequent decline in the number of officers due to the “defund the police” movement as well as increasingly strict vaccine mandates.
The bulk of the money spent against Prop A came from outside the state of Texas. Chief among them was the far-left Equity PAC, which was given $500,000 by George Soros’s Open Society foundation, contributing to a total war chest of around $1.2 million. Other culprits include the equally far-left group known as the 1630 Fund, which spent $100,000 against Prop A, and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, which spent another $100,000. Another Soros-linked group, the Fairness Project, spent $200,000 to defeat Prop A.
In addition to outside and foreign funding, several major unions also spent money against Prop A. The City of Austin Employees Association (CAEA) spent $25,000 against the measure, while the Texas American Federation of Teachers (TAFT) contributed $10,000, and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) spent $25,000.
The city of Austin faces the police shortage crisis in the midst of its highest annual homicide rate in over 60 years. Just last week, the city saw its 75th homicide for the year of 2021, which was the highest in the city’s recorded history since 1960. Two more homicides have already taken place since then, with the new total of 77 far surpassing the previous annual record of 59, and still with about a month and a half to go for the remainder of the year.
Following widespread race riots last year in response to the fentanyl overdose death of George Floyd, a black man, in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota, there have been increased efforts by far-left political figures to “defund” or “abolish” police departments. Austin was among the major cities that significantly reduced its police budget in response to these calls, which has led to many earlier retirements and resignations from the department.
Joe Gamaldi, the National Vice President of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), said in an interview on Wednesday that “morale is in the tank” for police officers across the nation, and that “the mayor and city council” of Austin “have basically been giving the finger to the hardworking men and women of law enforcement in the Austin Police Department for quite some time.”
Gamaldi then warned that the ongoing efforts to weaken the police department in the city have only led to a worsening of the crime crisis, noting that “ the murder rate is up 88% in Austin,” turning the once-popular tourist destination into “a dangerous community [that] nobody even wants to walk through with their families.”