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Prop A, police staffing initiative, fails to pass in Austin

Prop A would have required the Austin Police Department to staff two sworn police officers for every 1,000 residents, among other things.

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin voters struck down a proposition to increase Austin Police Department (APD) staffing. Results show 68% of individuals voted against it in the November 2021 election.

Proposition A was one of two Austin positions on the Nov. 2 ballot. It would have required APD to have two sworn police officers for every 1,000 residents.

Save Austin Now, a local political action committee (PAC), created the proposition in response to APD’s staffing shortages. Thirty-two percent of voters voted to pass Prop A.

In addition to more officers, Prop A would have also required an additional 40 hours of post-cadet class training. It aimed to increase minority hiring and boost community engagement.

The PAC filed its petition in May to get Prop A on the ballot, and the City of Austin certified the petition in August. The initiative has been met with both support and opposition across the city.

Save Austin Now announced Austin City Council Member Mackenzie Kelly and three former Austin mayors endorsed Prop A in October. Ken Cassady, president of the Austin Police Association, also supported it.

But Austin Mayor Steve Adler, the Austin Firefighters Association and a group called No Way on Prop A, which was supported by Austin City Council Members Vanessa Fuentes and Alison Alter, all opposed it.

The Austin Financial Service Department estimated Prop A would potentially use up to $120 million of the City’s budget per year.

The City of Austin is accepting mail-in ballots postmarked by 7 p.m. on Nov. 2 until 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 3.

Voting in November election ran from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day in Texas. Early voting started on Monday, Oct. 18, and ended on Friday, Oct. 29.

No Way Prop A released the following statement: 

“Tonight is a victory for the safety of all Austinites, and for our democracy. Prop A was an irresponsible ballot measure that would have forced Austin to spend hundreds of millions of dollars more on the police department by cutting funding from other essential city services,” said Laura Hernandez Holmes, campaign manager for No Way on Prop A. “No Way on Prop A built one of the largest and most diverse groups in the history of Austin politics and together, our coalition exposed the truth about Prop A by cutting through the persistent lies from Republican-front group Save Austin Now. We know that the safest cities have more resources, not more police. Our coalition members will continue to push back on misinformation and propaganda, and support comprehensive, community-focused approaches to public safety.”  

The Austin police union released the following statement

"The leadership of the Austin Police Association and our members would like to say thanks to all the voters who supported Prop A by casting your YES vote. We appreciate the grassroots effort from different parts of the city, coming together to take on such a a monumental task. You accomplished a huge feat by getting more than enough signatures on a civic petition to getting it on the ballot.

"You pulled together a significant cross-section of our community for a shared vision of a Safer Austin. Showed all of us that you are willing to do the right thing, even when it is an enormous challenge. A huge shout out goes to Save Austin Now and all those who supported the efforts through financial donations & grassroots volunteering. 

"This was your community vision and you put your hearts, minds, and souls into Proposition A. The steps moving forward are up to the Mayor & City Council to get much needed academy classes going & start the rebuilding for the future of the Austin Police Department.

"We kept hearing Mayor Adler & council members say the budget already exists to hire 300 more officers, so let's get to work and get the process moving forward."

Austin Mayor Steve Adler issued the following statement: 

“Austin’s culture and values were on the ballot tonight. This election reaffirms our community’s belief that public safety for all requires a comprehensive system that includes properly staffing our police, but also our fire, EMS, and mental health responses as well. At our core, we are an innovative, caring and creative community. We see that yet again in this election and that makes me proud to live in this magical place.”

And the City of Austin released this statement:

"The City remains committed to achieving and sustaining appropriate staffing levels at the Austin Police Department to meet the public safety needs of our residents.

"The next Police Cadet Academy will graduate in January 2022 and the City will start another Cadet Class as soon as possible.

"We recognize the importance of getting additional APD resources deployed quickly to keep our community safe."

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