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Austin mayor, council member respond to 'Save Austin Now' policing petition

Mayor Steve Adler and Council Member Greg Casar said the "far-right-wing police mandate" would "slash funds" for city services.

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin Mayor Steve Adler and City Council Member Greg Casar are responding to Save Austin Now’s #MakeAustinSafe initiative, calling it a “far-right-wing police mandate.” Last week, the political action committee submitted its police-related petition for an ordinance to be on the November 2021 ballot.

Adler and Casar said in a press release the ordinance would “slash funds” for city services including EMS, mental health care and parks services.

RELATED: Save Austin Now responds to proposed city budget

“Today, I asked the City Manager to address the impact of the group’s petition on our city’s services,” Adler said in a statement. “We must understand the budget implications of this petition to make the best choices for our community. Directing the city council to hire additional police officers at this time could result in layoffs in other city departments. We also need more public health professionals, firefighters, park rangers, and EMS to keep our community safe.”

“Today, our City Council struggled to add just a few more emergency medics, parks rangers, firefighters, or public health staff to our budget,” Casar said. “This difficult budget would be impossible if this Republican Party proposal passed, forcing the hiring of potentially 500 police officers. Austin’s budget will add more officers, but we should not be slashing our parks, libraries, and other safety services in the process.”

Adler and the Austin City Council met Tuesday for a working session. During the budget discussion, council members discussed funding for nine EMS employees for downtown, 16 additional firefighters, 12 park rangers and four public health workers for schools, according to the release. 

RELATED: Austin EMS Association 'disappointed in lack of funding' for 2021-22 fiscal year proposed budget

None of these positions are currently accounted for in the budget.

Save Austin Now submitted the petition with more than 25,600 “self-validated" signatures. The PAC is pushing for changes in police staffing, training and reform.

RELATED: New Austin city budget increases APD allocations

Specifically, it requires a minimum of two officers per 1,000 people and an additional 40 hours of post-cadet class training hours.

Organizations that have spoken out against the petition include:

  • ACLU of Texas
  • AFSCME Local 1624
  • Austin Area Urban League
  • Austin Community Law Center
  • Austin Justice Coalition
  • Black Lives Matter Austin
  • CAIR Austin
  • Grassroots Law Project
  • Ground Game Texas
  • Indivisible Austin
  • Indivisible Rosedale Huddle
  • Just Liberty
  • MEASURE
  • Planning Our Communities
  • Statewide Leadership Council
  • Survivor Justice Project
  • Texas Appleseed
  • Texas Civil Rights Project
  • Texas Criminal Justice Coalition
  • Texas Harm Reduction Alliance
  • Texas Fair Defense Project
  • Texas Freedom Network
  • Texas Women's Coalition
  • Travis County Democratic Party
  • Workers Defense Action Fund

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