The leftist-run city of Austin, Texas, is facing a police officer shortage with current and former officers citing hostility toward law enforcement and conservatives as the driving force, the New York Post reported on Friday.
Multiple sources told the Post the city allegedly has more than 300 vacancies and officers are quitting “because they feel disrespected,” according to the report. The Austin Police Association said 77 more officers are expected to retire before the end of March. Lt. Brian Moon, who retired last month after 23 years of service, said Austin has become like Portland, Seattle, and San Francisco “where if you’re at all conservative or in law enforcement, it’s become a hostile place.”
The staffing shortage is leading to later response times and 911 calls are being redirected to the non-emergency number “because there aren’t enough cops to solve the crimes,” according to the report. Senior Police Officer Justin Berry told the publication that the department has taken detectives off of cases to act as patrol officers.
“If you come home and find your home burglarized, calls like that are now going to 311,” said police union president Thomas Villarreal. “You’re not getting a police response to many property crimes if it’s not a violent crime that is currently ongoing.”
A former watch commander who goes by the name “Moody,” said the Austin Police Department has changed dramatically since he started in 1999, especially in 2021 when the city saw a record 88 homicides and a rise in violent crime. Moody said he has seen the city’s attitude toward police “shift” and said he did not feel the city was “really appreciating us the way they used to.”
The Austin City Council notably caved to the left-wing “defund the police” crusade in 2020, slashing the budget by $150 million following the death of George Floyd in Minnesota and the resulting protests and riots. Officials also cut 150 officer positions from the budget, according to the report.
Last year, the local district attorney indicted 19 police officers accused of “using excessive force” against protesters from the 2020 protests
“It almost felt like there was a target — like the District Attorney’s Office and the city was looking for an opportunity to do something to you, to prosecute you or fire you, no matter if you did it right or did it wrong,” Moon stated.
The city council ended up refunding the police department in 2021, although the police union still alleges that the city has far too few officers for a city of its size.
The report notes that “entire areas of the city are left unpatrolled” at times if a large incident occurs.
“We’ve pretty much conceded that we’re not going to show up anymore on certain calls,” Moody said. “Eventually it’s going to get to the point where it’s so bad, everyone’s going to realize that something has to be done.”
Democrat Mayor Kirk Watson did not respond to the Post‘s request for comment but previously told the publication the city has “unacceptably long waits” for police. The Austin Police Department would not comment on retirement numbers but said the department is working hard every day “to provide a safer environment with the resources we have at hand.”