The Austin Police Department’s (APD) monthly report shows a 43 percent increase in the city’s murder rate from January through August 2020 compared to the same time frame in 2019.
Earlier this year, Austin was reported atop a list of the nation’s most populous cities with the highest increase in its homicide rate, showing a 65 percent increase through June of this year. So though the rate of increase has dropped some, it remains astoundingly high for a city with historically low crime.
APD’s Ida sector, which encompasses the North Central area of Austin, experienced the largest increase of murders at 700 percent.
According to the report, aggravated assaults have also increased by 17 percent, a significant jump from the same month last year. Instances of statutory rape have increased by 30 percent as well.
The total violent crime rate has increased by one percent.
Property crimes have seen a two percent decrease, but some specific offenses have risen: robberies are up nine percent, arson 24 percent, burglary 11 percent, and automobile theft 33 percent.
Back in August, the Austin City Council approved a $150 million cut from its police department budget, which included nixing funding for three cadet classes. The department has been reeling from understaffing with 150 open positions earlier this year.
The council’s move is a part of its broader effort to “reimagine” the role of police in its community, a maneuver that gained steam after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of an officer who has since been charged.
Governor Greg Abbott and Mayor Steve Adler have engaged in a war of words over the council’s decision. Abbott has even gone so far as threatening legislation to freeze property tax collections for municipalities who “defund their police.”
Adler and the city council, meanwhile, remain steadfast in their support of the cut.
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Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad watching and quoting Monty Python productions.