Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza and Travis County Attorney Delia Garza wrote separate letters to City Manager Spencer Cronk on Tuesday making allegations that Austin Police Department officers are refusing to investigate crimes.
The prosecutors claimed in their letters that they received multiple complaints about “rogue officers” telling citizens and business owners that they will not investigate or take action on their complaints because the prosecutors’ offices will not prosecute their cases anyway.
Garza stated in his letter: “When sworn law enforcement officers decline to investigate crimes reported by Travis County residents, it erodes public confidence in our justice system and make communities less safe.” His office prosecutes felony crimes.
Garza also talked about the instances that the police officials did not investigate. He said a Nextdoor user recently reported that an officer declined to investigate the complaint about a man exposing himself to children. Another instance was when a small business owner complained about the refusal of police officers to investigate a crime, and the officers also blamed the District Attorney’s office for their inaction.
On the other hand, Delia Garza said she is aware of the false narrative that is mischaracterizing her office’s policies, which deals with misdemeanors.
She added that despite these narratives, she is committed to having “an open dialogue with leaders in our community who truly care more about public safety over political ploys and pandering.”
Delia Garza reiterated that her office never asked Interim Chief Joe Chacon to direct his officers not to make an arrest or an investigation about any crime. “Nor have we stated or implemented a policy that blanket rejects any type of charge,” she added.
A spokesman for the city said they are now investigating the matter and will contact both prosecutors for more information regarding the complaints from citizens and business owners.
There is an ongoing issue between the Austin Police officers and the prosecutors after Jose Garza and Delia Garza put a new policy in place. Their new policy states they will review the cases before a defendant gets formally booked in jail.
Because of the policy, police officers believe that possible felony and misdemeanor charges can be rejected because the prosecutors believe there was no probable cause, or they want to ask the police officers to gather more information about the case. Police officers consider the policy an “insult to their job.” Still, the prosecutors said they put the policy in place because it will weed out early cases and not pursue those lacking sufficient evidence.