AUSTIN (KXAN) - Faced with rising crime and an outcry by central-city businesses and residents about transients and downtown crime, Austin police have launched a new sweeps operation, dubbed the Public Order Initiative.
It began last weekend and will continue for several more.
According to police, "The Public Order Initiative is targeting city ordinance and public order violations. The goal is to curb violent and property crime in the downtown area."
Chief Art Acavedo recently said that Austin is being flooded with aggressive transients and that perhaps the downtown shelters should be moved away from the entertainment district.
Richard Troxell, president of House the Homeless , is indignant about the sweeps.
"This is 2012, we're the United States," he said. "People who have lost everything in their lives, now destitute on the streets and this is the way we're responding to them."
Bob Woody, head of the East Sixth Street Community Association, believes the homeless should be moved to a campus outside the city where they could receive job training, spiritual counseling and detoxification.
"The thing I've always said in regard to the homeless, they're not getting or receiving a benefit from staying downtown," he said. "It gives them a place to sleep and a sandwich."
With the big Texas-West Virginia football game this weekend, ACL next weekend and Formula One in mid November, it's quite likely the sweeps will continue at least until the F1 crowd has come and gone.
Even though there were no reports of iced over bridges or roadways like last week, officials are urging people to use extra caution while driving.
Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg heads to court this week as a defendant in a civil trial that could oust her from office.
A 55-year-old man died in a single-vehicle crash just after midnight Monday morning near Lakeway.
More than 100 trees covered in lights now shine bright throughout Zilker Park. The Trail of Lights is open for another season.
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A 10-year-old was killed while standing outside of a vehicle which lost control during the icy conditions, DPS said.