AUSTIN (KXAN)– It will be at least another two weeks before Texas Department of Public Safety troopers could return to Austin, Austin Police’s assistant chief said Monday.
In an update to the public safety commission, James Mason said they’ve already seen an uptick in violent crime since their partnership with the agency was paused about three weeks ago when troopers were redeployed to the border.
“In the areas where DPS was deployed, it did reduce the calls for service and reduce our response times and reduce our violent crimes,” Mason said.
“We see it moving back in the direction of the levels that we were seeing before. I would expect we’ll see it get quite a bit higher,” said Jonathan Kringen, APD’s chief data officer.
“The DPS patrol did reduce crime. It did reduce violent crime, and in particular violent crime related to firearms,” Kringen said.
Some commissioners want more context around this data.
“I am confused about some of the data because I’m not clear if there was a true firearm defense or if a firearm became illegal, because there was a little bit of marijuana in the car,” Commissioner David Holmes said.
“You just made reference to a whole lot of data we don’t have access to, so I’m going to officially request that data made available so that we can reference it because we also looked at a whole lot of data that you put together that didn’t have a whole lot of detail and sort of– we’re accepting it at face value,” said Nelly Paulina Ramirez, public safety commission chair.
Kringen said some of the data could be hard to get because it belongs to DPS.
That accountability factor is part of why Holmes wants to explore a different idea.
“There’s no reason to me that we shouldn’t at least explore partnering with the sheriff, partnering with local constables before we’re partnering with agencies that don’t answer to the local electorate,” he said.
Some commissioners and neighbors want more transparency in the process.
“I want to be pointed to hit whoever decided their right to do that without anybody else’s interaction or interjection,” Commissioner Yasmine Smith said.
“It was done in secrecy. There was no transparency,” said Bill Wallace with the Austin Justice Coalition.
He doesn’t want to see the partnership reactivated.
“We’re not happy with this partnership. Don’t bring them back. If it was so important, why would you pause it in the middle?” he said.
There have been mixed reactions from neighbors on APD’s partnership with DPS.