Austin’s all-Democrat city council voted Thursday to slash police funding by $150 million, more than a third of the department’s $434 million budget, while redirecting $100,000 of that amount to abortion access.
The decision cuts functions such as the 911 call center, community partnerships, victims’ services, and traffic enforcement, as well as cadet classes and officers’ overtime pay. Some of the cuts include, according to local outlet KVUE:
911 Call Center – $17.7 million
Forensic Sciences – $12.7 million
Support Services – $14.1 million
Community Partnerships – $2.5 million
Victims Services – $3.1 million
Internal Affairs – $4.5 million
Special Investigations – $1.8 million
Special Events – $4.4 million
Mounted Patrol – $2.1 million
Traffic Enforcement – $18.4 million
Austin Regional Intelligence Center – $2 million
Park Police – $5.8 million
Lake Patrol – $1.4 million
Organized Crime/K-9 – $1.2 million
Nuisance Abatement – $312,000
Canceling 3 Cadet Classes – $2.2 million this year
Officer Overtime – $2.8 million
License Plate Readers – $133,000
An amendment proposed by Austin Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza directed $100,000 of the funding to increasing access to abortions, according to the “Immediate Community Investments and Reimagining Plan.” Although state law prohibits government funding for abortion, the City of Austin gets around those restrictions by funding “abortion access,” including travel, lodging, and child-care expenses for women seeking abortions.
“Austin has reaffirmed their commitment to killing preborn children with taxpayer dollars,” said Kimberlyn Schwartz of Texas Right To Life in a press release.
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The decision to cut the police department’s funding by more than one-third came after City Manager Spencer Cronk was criticized for his original proposal, which would have cut the department by $11 million. Instead, the council’s final budget cut police funding by more than ten times that.
“We remain concerned about the reductions in police positions when crime is increasing and response times are slower,” the Greater Austin Crime Commission said in a statement. Violent crimes, including homicides, aggravated assaults, and arson, rose in Austin in March and April.
Melanie Rodriguez, president of the Austin Police Women’s Association, criticized the city council for still benefitting from its security detail. “If the mayor and council need special protection they can hire it themselves,” she said.
Others, like Chas Moore of the Austin Justice Coalition, lauded the decision and suggested that more changes like it would follow. “We are just getting started,” he insisted.