Some Austin City Council members express support for reducing police budget by $100M, redirecting funds

Austin Protests

AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Thursday, Austin City Council approved five resolutions dealing with police reform and racial disparities.

MORE: Austin City Council votes to approve changes to APD use-of-force practices — in addition to racial justice reforms

Meanwhile, two council members expressed support for a suggestion not yet on the table: taking $100 million from the police department budget.

Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza and Council Member Greg Casar both said during a virtual meeting on Thursday that they would support reducing the Austin Police Department’s budget by $100 million in an attempt to better support public housing, homelessness, and other community support initiatives.

“Nobody comes to this with clean hands,” Garza said. “We’ve all made mistakes but it’s important to know, in this moment, that we can write these wrongs.”

“We should do everything we can to try to move that $100 million from policing… over to other forms of community support,” Casar added.

The support from Casar and Garza came just ahead of Thursday evening’s meeting, the council voted for their approval for several resolutions that include measures that prohibit chokeholds and require officers to reduce militarized equipment.

Council also voted on Thursday to eliminate new police positions in the upcoming budget and set a goal of zero racial disparity in traffic stops and police deaths. Among those: a call for APD officers to no longer use tear gas or rubber bullets on crowds after protesters were hurt two weeks ago.

Community groups, including the Austin Justice Coalition, have called for a reduction of the APD budget by $100 million. According to the Austin non-profit MEMBERS, APD’s budget grew 73% from 2010 to 2020.

Ken Casaday, president of the Austin Police Association, told KXAN that salaries for sworn officers and civilians make up 88% of the APD budget.

Mayor Steve Adler clarified on Thursday that none of the resolutions approved deal with defunding or disbanding the police department.

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