Violent crime in Downtown Austin down by 32 percent


by KRIS BETTS / KVUE News and photojournalist SCOTT MCKENNEY

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Posted on December 23, 2013 at 7:12 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 23 at 7:21 PM

AUSTIN -- New numbers from the Austin Police Department showed violent crime downtown has gone down nearly a third since 2012.

In 2012, there were 277 violent crimes reported downtown. With just a week left in 2013, police reported 188 violent crimes. That’s a 32 percent reduction.

Austin police told KVUE it's the result of several initiatives including more surveillance cameras and an operation in June targeting downtown drug dealers that ended in 70 arrests.

Downtown Commander Jason Dusterhoft also led an undercover operation targeting aggressive panhandlers. That operation started in January and resulted in 909 arrests and citations.

“The problem was getting to the point where you couldn't walk down the street and not be asked for money or asked for a cigarette, so we wanted to make sure we looked at that and we addressed it,” said Dusterhoft.

The department is also putting more resources into one of the fastest growing areas in Austin.

This year, city council approved 47 new positions for APD. Of those 47 officers, 22 of them will be assigned downtown.

The Operations Lieutenant for Downtown Command, Lt. Christian Malanka, said the last test for the year will be a big one: New Year’s Eve.

“If we can maintain where we are now and not see an increase, I think we're all going to have a great new year," Malanka said.

However, he also said they have a lot of work ahead of them and several more public order initiatives in the works for 2014.