Austin Police Association President Kenneth Casaday tweeted a call regarding a shooting that occurred at 5:35 a.m. on Sunday. Casaday said that no Austin Police Department (APD) unit was available to respond to the call for 12 minutes after it came out. The APD was only able to get to the scene of the crime 16 minutes after the call. The victim of the shooting was found critically injured after being shot in the head.
The APD said the incident was an altercation between two drivers, and the victim may have been a bystander. No arrests have been made.
On his Twitter account, Abbott retweeted Casaday and added:
"This is what defunding the police looks like. Austin is incapable of timely responding to a victim shot in the head. Texas won't tolerate this. We're about to pass a law – that I will sign – that will prevent cities from defunding police. Sanity and safety will return."
The push for cities to "defund the police" grew in the wake of the nationwide riots orchestrated by Antifa and Black Lives Matter during the summer of 2020. This push has affected Texas, primarily in the state capital of Austin.
The Austin City Council voted last summer to capitulate to the demands of Antifa and Black Lives Matter rioters by defunding the Austin Police Department by 34 percent, or $150 million. The city then reduced the department's operational budget by an additional $21.5 million, which the city got by delaying the start of police academies. Crime in Austin has noticeably surged since then. (Related: Police officers in Austin, Tex., are quitting in record numbers due to city's "woke" transformation.)
The bill Abbott is talking about is House Bill 1900 (HB 1900), which passed in the Texas House of Representatives in April and is still being debated in the Republican-majority Texas Senate.
HB 1900 would target cities with 250,000 or more residents. This would single out 11 cities in Texas: Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth, El Paso, Arlington, Corpus Christi, Plano, Laredo and Lubbock. Many of these cities are controlled by Democratic mayors or Democratic-majority city councils.
If these 11 cities cut police funding without making a proportional reduction to the rest of the city's budget, that city would automatically authorize the state government to take a portion of the city's sales tax revenue and divert it to the Texas Department of Public Safety, which is responsible for statewide law enforcement and has its own law enforcement units.
The bill also prevents these 11 cities from raising other taxes to offset the losses they get from the diverted sales tax revenue.
Under the bill, cities can get state approval to cut their police budgets if expenses for one year were higher because of capital expenditures or disaster response. The bill also allows neighborhoods that have been annexed by these 11 cities in the last 30 years to vote to become independent should their parent cities defund their police departments.
"As municipalities across this nation are defunding their police departments, are taking money away from the police budgets and putting them elsewhere in their city budgets, this bill will make sure that in the state of Texas, that is not going to be allowed," said Republican State Rep. Craig Goldman, one of the bill's primary authors.
The bill has been condemned by Democratic state lawmakers who have argued that this does not address the supposed issue of police brutality which led to Austin defunding its law enforcement.
Several other Democrats have argued that the bill should not punish cities for reducing the number of civilian jobs in police departments. State Rep. Gene Wu, a Democrat from Houston, argued that the 250,000 population cap unfairly targets larger, more liberal cities.
"If we're true to our word to say why we are doing this … then we should accept this amendment to apply to all 30 million Texans," said Wu.
State Rep. Richard Pena Raymond, a Democrat who co-authored HB 1900, defended the bill against his own party. He said the solution to issues involving police is to raise funds.
"You invest more in training our law enforcement officers, not less," he argued. "That's how you make it better."
Learn more about the right and wrong ways city and state governments all over the country are dealing with issues involving their police departments at PoliceViolence.news.