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Austin

Austin Police Chief Blames Defunding Efforts For Slow 911 Response And Higher Crime Rate

Defunding efforts seem to be taking a toll on the efficiency of the city law enforcement which has been taking too long to respond to 911 emergency calls.

In a luncheon with local folks, interim police chief Joseph Chacon also took note of an alarming level for homicide incidence in Austin, adding that the homicide rate has reached a level “we’ve never seen here before.”

Under such conditions, the Austin police chief categorically said that they’re in dire crisis — thanks to the left’s defunding effort.

As for emergency police response to 911 calls, Chacon said that they could hardly stay close to the standard nine minute-responding time, even as he claimed that responding now takes them 20-30 minutes.

A year ago, almost half of the Austin City Council unanimously voted to cut the budget of the police department by as much as $150 million, an amount that the local legislators deemed better allocated elsewhere.

According to Chacon, they have already reached out to each of the members of the Austin City Council to explain the situation they’re in. Chacon further added that he had to talk to “each council member to explain the dire situation we are in. I’m going to call it a crisis, because that’s what it is, and they all get it.”

Interestingly, 911 call dispatchers were designated to form part of clusters, from the most urgent requests for shootings, stabbings, rapes, and ongoing domestic violence incidents referred to as “P0.”

Responding to such 911 calls usually takes the police nine minutes and two seconds, while responses for calls categorized as “P1,” crimes committed by an alleged offender still in the area, usually entails the police about 10 minutes and 41 seconds.

Chacon added that inadequacy of resources has been significantly slowing them down.

On top of the higher crime rate and delayed response, Chacon also hinted at the Austin Police Station’s depleting police force, even as he claimed that they’re losing 15 to 20 officers a month.

He warned that understaffing the police force is “not sustainable.”

Chacon’s call saw Austin City Council Member Mackenzie Kelly taking his side by issuing numerical projections which hinted at  235 vacancies by May of next year and another 340 by May 2023.

“The force needs to have more police officers in order to get to scenes quicker,” Kelly was quoted as saying while describing Austin’s crime situation as a matter of “life or death.” She also went on to enjoin fellow council members to “deliver public safety at a quality time to individuals who need it.”

Last year, the Austin Police Association condemned the idea of defunding the police department as “ridiculous and unsafe,” adding that the act ignores “the majority who do not want the police defunded.”

Relatedly, citizen advocacy group Save Austin Now is pressing the council to add a ballot measure to voters. In the event the electorate approves, it would compel the city to hire more police officers.

The measure is seen to bring in a ratio of two cops for every 1,000 citizens.

“Austin doesn’t feel safe recently, because it isn’t. We’ve seen a series of city policy decisions over the last two years that have led to a surge in both violent crime and property crime against Austinites. A 300% increase in murders this year. A double-digit increase in property crimes, such as burglaries and carjackings.”

“As Austin’s crime rate has soared, the federal government has taken note of it and sent in resources to help stabilize the chaos. But we cannot rely on the federal government’s Operation Undaunted to provide us with the local resources we’ll need to fight this trend: We’ll have to do it ourselves,” the group said in a separate statement.