Austin cuts police budget by a third as fundraising efforts gain momentum


Austin City Council voted unanimously on Thursday to cut the police budget by $ 150 million and reinvest the money in social services days after an equally large fundraising drive in Seattle led on the resignation of police chief Carmen Best.


Amid a worldwide reckoning on race and police following George Floyd’s death, the Austin Police Department has come under fire for the murder of Mike Ramos, an unarmed black and Latino man, as well as the use of Obligate against demonstrators against police brutality.

The Texas capital on Thursday agreed to cut by about a third of its $ 434 million budget, immediately wiping out $ 21.5 million from the department and reallocating funds to social services such as access to food. , violence prevention and access to abortion, according to The Texas Tribune.

An additional $ 80 million will be cut in a year-long process of redirecting dollars to other government departments, and $ 50 million will be diverted to “other forms of public safety and community support.” via a new program called “Reimagine Safety Fund”.

The Austin Police Association voiced opposition to the plan ahead of the vote, calling the council’s budget proposals “ridiculous and dangerous to Austinites.”

Fundraising efforts have swept the country since early June, resulting in budget cuts or reduced officer numbers in more than a dozen cities, including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland and Washington, DC.

Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best, a 28-year veteran of the department and Seattle’s first black police chief, resigned after city council approved the nation’s most ambitious police restructuring plan in to date, including a budget cut of $ 3.5 million and the reinvestment of over $ 17. million.

Crucial quote

“This, for me, I’m done, I can’t do it,” Best said on Tuesday, announcing his resignation.

Key context

While the fundraising movement has grown in importance over the months of Black Lives Matter protests, it is far from universally popular. According to an Axios-SurveyMonkey survey, only 34% of Americans have a favorable opinion, while 53% do not. Some are pointing recent spikes in gun violence in cities across the country, including New York and Chicago, as reasons why police funding should not be cut.

Large number

13. The number of US cities that have decided to fund their police service since the start of the BLM protests, according to a Forbes pointing.

Further reading

“Austin City Council Votes to Cut Police Department Budget by One-Third and Reinvest Money in Social Services” (Texas Tribune)

“At least 12 cities fund their police services” (Forbes)

“Seattle City Council to Cut Police Funding, with Further Cuts Underway” (Forbes)

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