Police: 38 arrest warrants for downtown drug crimes


by ASHLEY GOUDEAU / KVUE News and Chief Photojournalist SCOTT GUEST

Bio | Email | Follow: @AshleyG_KVUE


Posted on September 6, 2013 at 6:14 PM

Updated Friday, Sep 6 at 6:40 PM

AUSTIN, TX -- East 6th Street is calm by day. But at night it's a different story.

"Nighttime is definitely party atmosphere down here," said Steve Busti who owns a business on E. 6th Street. 

That atmosphere has gained quite the reputation. Before moving to Austin, Brian Romer heard all about 6th Street.

"It's just the party area. The thing that, when you go to Austin, you must see," described Romer. 

But now that he lives here, he prefers to stay away.

"It's younger, crazier," Romer said, describing the crowds. "I mean there's the drunk people and then the people who have been doing something else."

Austin Police are cracking down on that "something else." Drug use.

Since Wednesday, officers have obtained 38 arrest warrants for various drug charges. The offenses happened from July 11 to September 5 in the downtown area. Nearly 60 percent of them committed by the homeless or transients.

"When the police do have crackdowns and stuff, and they enforce some of the laws, it cleans it up around here and it actually feels rather safe," Busti said.

He opened the Museum of Weird on E. 6th Street nine years ago. He says business drops and he gets complaints when the police aren't around.

"If it's not constant police presence around here, and enforcement, things tend to kind of slip back into the old ways and stuff. Pan handling and drugs," Busti added. 

He hopes the recent crackdown becomes permanent.

"I wish there was a solution, a permanent long-term solution for the issues that plague downtown. But in the absence of any long term solution, moving certain buildings or whatever, the best solution I think now is keeping the police around," said Busti.

Cleaning up 6th Street is a move that could even bring back people who shy away from the area.

"If you can make it a little bit safer, a little less crime, it'll draw people here," Romer said.

As of Friday evening only seven of the people listed on the warrants were in the Travis County Jail.