Texas Governor Greg Abbott has let his thoughts be known after Austin City Council voted to defund their Police Department this past week.
Abbott stated on Aug 13, following Austin City Council’s decision to cut $150 million from the Austin Police Department’s budget.
“Some cities are more focused on political agendas than public safety,” said Abbott. “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. Public safety is job one, and Austin has abandoned that duty. The legislature will take this issue up next session, but in the meantime, the Texas Department of Public Safety will stand in the gap to protect our capital city.”
Austin City Council unanimously voted to cut its police department budget on Thursday, after officers and the city’s top cop faced months of criticism over the killing of an unarmed Black and Hispanic man, the use of force against anti-police brutality protesters and the investigation of a demonstrator’s fatal shooting by another citizen, as reported by The Texas Tribune.
Those criticisms coincided with protests across Texas and the country calling for reforms on police tactics and the “defunding” of law enforcement in favor of redistributing funds to social services and alternative public safety programs.
The council’s move makes Austin the first of Texas’ four biggest cities to drastically cut police department funding, but this is not the first department that has been defunded. Northeast Texas town of Como recently voted on the indefinite suspension of Como’s police department.
New Mayor Jerry Radney said that after much deliberation, the city wanted to change some directions that they were headed in.
At 1:23 p.m. on Wednesday, public safety director and lone Como police officer Andy Lowen signed off. “Please advise I am out of service, and I have been defunded. Thank you for your time here,” Lowen told dispatch.
Now with Austin cutting their Police Departments budget by millions, it is yet to be seen exactly what kind of ripple effect this will have on other municipalities in Texas.