AUSTIN (KXAN) — More and more officers are not wanting to work downtown, according to the Austin Police Association.
“Just Friday night, I was with officers that were assaulted and bitten on Sixth Street,” said Ken Casaday, the president of the Austin Police Association.
Up until about three years ago, Casaday says downtown patrol was a choice position.
“It’s become so bad here that we’re having to force officers — young officers — from around the city to, against their will, be moved downtown,” said Casaday.
Casaday says drug use and heavy drinking, combined with growing crowds, is to blame. People who live, work or spend a lot of time around Sixth Street understand the problems.
“They do have a lot to deal with,” said downtown neighbor Aaron Boehm. “I’ve lived here for 11 years now, and I think the crowd and Sixth Street is different now than it was back then.”
Casaday says instances like Saturday night, where video taken of officers goes viral, adds to the problem.
“It’s the ‘I gotcha’ moment. I worked down there [over the weekend], and there’s hundreds of cellphones. Everybody is taking video,” said Casaday.
So what can be done? Casaday says cracking down on bars is a start.
“We used to have enough people to where we could do operations down there and monitor over-serving and the serving of underage people. We just don’t have the officers anymore to do that,” Casaday added. “My job is to worry about the officers, and the officers’ concern down there is to take care of the citizens and make sure it’s a peaceful environment for everybody.”
But that job is getting tougher to do, according to Casaday.