‘Defund the Police’ Experiment Fully Underway In Austin, Texas

Over the summer, chants to “defund the police” rang out across the country, but hardly anyone cut their police budget by as much as Austin, Texas. While cities like Baltimore and Denver cut their budgets by 3% or 10%, Austin cut APD’s budget by a third — $150 million.

The city has already started spending that money on other programs, buying two hotels with plans to convert them into permanent supportive housing for the homeless. To operate these hotels, it’ll take about $6.5 million annually, but the backlash to any reallocation of police funds in this very red state has been swift and widespread.

Texas’ governor has threatened to remove the Austin Police Department from the city’s control, freeze property tax revenues and bring in federal law enforcement — all in the interest of public safety.

Austin’s reforms have also extended beyond the police budget, with the city adding a “mental health option” for 911 calls and proposing an independent Office of Police Oversight.

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