AUSTIN - Just minutes before Austin police said a University of Texas student was sexually assaulted at 2200 Rio Grande Street near West Campus, some local business workers were finishing up their shifts.
"Kind of scary," Darby Murphy said.
KVUE is not identifying her place of business at the request of the business owner. Its location is on the corner of where the crime was committed.
Police said they got the call about the attack at 12:41 a.m. Sunday. The title of the call was sex crime urgent.
Murphy remembered seeing activity shortly before but nothing suspicious.
"It is kind of upsetting that if I felt like I had been here a little bit later - because I'm often here until about 12:30 a.m. before I actually leave - that if I had been here a little bit longer then you know I could have been there and done something about it," Murphy said.
Michael Lauderdale, Ph.D. is very concerned about the attack. He also said there will be more.
"Are you predicting that violent crimes will continue [to rise] until we get more cops? Yes, yes," Lauderdale told KVUE's Jenni Lee.
Lauderdale is a criminal justice professor at UT. He was also the first chairman of Austin's Public Safety Commission.
He said the University of Texas Police Department and the Austin Police Department are both experiencing officer shortages and that directly affects crime.
"We've not been increasing the number of officers, the population has been growing," said Lauderdale, "...the more officers you have, particularly on the street, the less crime."
It is just that simple for Lauderdale.
UT Police Chief David Carter told KVUE the department has 99 sworn officers, and Lauderdale said the department needs more than 100. He cited a 2016 study by FiveThirtyEight, a website that focuses on opinion poll analysis, that showed Austin is one of 15 cities driving up murder rates in Texas.
"We need to have officers on foot patrol or on [a] bike," said Lauderdale.
Nearly a year ago, first-year ballet student Haruka Weiser was killed as she walked back to her dorm room after dance class.
As a result, a Department of Public Safety study called for millions of dollars worth of safety upgrades, including hiring more security. But that hiring never happened. Lauderdale said there wasn't any money for it.
He now hopes the community will step in and change that before another violent crime happens on or near the campus.
"Calling the mayor, or calling the city council or calling someone at the state legislature and saying I'm paying taxes, I want to see some of that tax money go to things that directly affect me. I've got a wife, I've got a daughter and I'm concerned about them," said Lauderdale.
Lauderdale said UTPD Chief David Carter asked him to start a new leadership program for his officers after the Weiser murder.
The Leadership In Organizations police program has already begun. It teaches officers how to better deploy resources and how to improve relationships with students.
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