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Austin police officers meet with Republican lawmakers for law enforcement roundtable

Republican New York Rep. John Katko, along with Texas Republicans, spoke with officers about money and resources.

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin Police Department officers met with Texas Republican lawmakers to discuss rising crime in Austin Tuesday. Rep. John Katko (R-New York), a ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, joined the Texas Representatives at the roundtable.

The biggest challenges APD officers shared they've faced this year are money and resources. Katko said police issues in Austin are of “very significant concern” to the American Security Task Force, of which he is a member.

The Austin City Council cut APD’s budget by $150 million in 2020. Katko and the Republican lawmakers said there’s been a 96% increase in homicides since that point. 

"We're down 300 officers in one of the largest, growing cities in the world, 300," Katko said. "That's insane. They're leaving 15 officers a month to attrition, and one academy class, or however many academy classes they've had and are planning to have, is not even going to keep up with the attrition rate let alone make up for the lost personnel that they've had going forward."

RELATED: Prosecutors accuse Austin officers of not investigating crimes

Katko claimed Travis County District Attorney's office is failing to prosecute every case it sees, leaving APD in a tough spot. He said fentanyl-related crimes, child abuse and traffic incidents are also increasing in Austin.

“Make no mistake about it, when you defund the police and when you vilify police, this is what happens,” Katko said.

The Texas Republican representatives present were Michael McCaul, August Pfluger, Chip Roy and Roger Williams. Each represents portions of Central Texas.

Last month, Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk announced the initial proposal for Austin’s 2022 fiscal year budget. In accordance with legislation from Gov. Greg Abbott, the city is proposing more funding for APD, restoring its budget to 2019 levels.

APD temporarily moved 69 officers from the DWI and motors units to the patrol unit on Aug. 1 due to budget cuts, officer shortages due to retirements and resignations and a lack of new cadet classes.  

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