November 2nd marked election day in Austin. Among the many issues, voters were deciding was a proposition that would have forced the city to hire new police officers. After 91% of the votes counted, nearly 68.4% rejected Proposition A. If approved, it would have had enough officers to have two on patrol for every 1,000 residents.
Voters want police to work with what they have
The measure was backed by the group Save Austin Now, which attempted to draw attention to Austin’s increase in homicides, police response time, and the shrinking officer ranks. Austin Mayor Steve Adler opposed the measure, warning of a deep cut to the city’s budget leading to fewer medics, librarians, and firefighters.
During the pandemic, Austin has seen an increase in homicides. In 2021, the city has seen 75 homicides, making it the city’s highest homicide rate in 20 years. Backers of the measure claimed that the city needed more officers to stem the rise in homicides—crime in Austin crime been down from the start of the 2010s.
Other cities looked to restructure police departments
The defeat of the measure comes after a referendum restored Austin’s ban on homeless encampments. Liberal donor George Soros donated money with the hopes of beating back the proposition.
Austin was not the only city where voters decided on how police departments should look like. Voters in Albany and Cleveland approved measures to provide more civilian oversight. One of the biggest measures was rejected in Minneapolis. The measure sought to scrap the police department and replace it with the Department of Public Safety.