As a reason for the directive, Abbott cited the fatal stabbing by (since-deceased) Dylan Woodburn and another on Wednesday — in the former, the assailant was homeless while, in the latter, both assailant and victim are believed by APD to be homeless.
In a letter to DPS Colonel Steven C. McGraw, Abbott stated, “The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is not charged with the duty to police the streets of Austin – that is the City of Austin’s responsibility.”
“However, the State of Texas must do all it can to protect the safety of all its residents and visitors. That duty falls even more heavily on DPS when it comes to employees and visitors at all State of Texas facilities – including UT,” he continued.
This isn’t the first instance of state intervention. In November, the Texas Department of Transportation began — under the direction of Gov. Abbott — cleaning up homeless encampments under interstate overpasses, which Austin Mayor Steve Adler said he welcomed.
The City of Austin has been embroiled in an increasingly serious situation with its homeless/transient population for some time.
Since the July 1, 2019 ordinance change, city officials have been scrambling to come up with solutions for the problem — on which housing has been their focus. Private sector businesses have also announced plans to finance their own, temporary housing operations.
In October, the city reversed course on its previous decision — reinstating much of the previous camping and lying ban.
Also in October, Abbott gave a November 1 deadline to Adler to improve its homelessness before he would “step in.”
Directed to City Hall, Abbott posited, “How many people will be killed and injured before Austin reforms its homeless policies?”
In a Thursday tweet, Abbott asked for public input, requesting, “Your voice matters. Share your story about any danger you’ve encountered downtown.”
DPS was originally directed by Abbott to begin patrols on Monday, January 13 but onThursday night, Abbott shared a picture of the DPS officers in the field patrolling the selected areas.
No time limit was specified for the duration of the patrols.
Tensions between state officials and its capital city’s officials becoming increasingly more intense.
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Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and 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 quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.