At some point, you can’t let the kids make decisions, there has to be a grown-up in the mix. It looks like Austin, Texas might finally have reached that point.
The city is relatively safe, although homelessness and trash are a problem. But in response to the waves of protests across the country and a few incidences in town, the Austin City Council voted to slash the city’s police budget by $150 million, or about one-third.
Governor Greg Abbott and State Attorney General Ken Paxton think that is the exact wrong approach, and have decided to do something about it. They are considering introducing state legislation that would give the state the ability to take over policing responsibilities in any city of more than one million people that has fewer than two police officers per 1,000 residents. If passed, the law would allow the state to assume the policing responsibilities inside of the Department of Public Safety.
“This proposal for the state to takeover the Austin Police Department is one strategy I’m looking at. We can’t let Austin’s defunding & disrespect for law enforcement to endanger the public & invite chaos like in Portland and Seattle.”
Not surprisingly, Austin City Council members don’t see it this way.
Austin City Council member Greg Casar said
“This, just like the other likely illegal, absurd proposal, are attacks on Austin’s local democracy and attacks on our focus on civil rights. When you look at it, it seems pretty clearly like an attempt at political theater and grandstanding.”
During a time of increased public protests that often turn violent, with looting, rioting, and arson, it seems unlikely that residents would want to slash the number of police officers available to respond to emergencies. But it’s their town, and they voted the city officials into office. Perhaps they should be allowed to change policing however they see fit.