AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Department of Public Safety upped patrols in Austin on March 30 as part of a partnership with the Austin Police Department to address APD’s staffing shortage.

Below is a breakdown of the incidents DPS was involved in as part of the Austin Violent Crimes Task Force from March 30 through April 3, according to the department’s communications office.

  • 1,570 traffic stops
  • 765 citations
  • 15 crash investigations
  • 52 felony arrests
  • 31 misdemeanor arrests
  • 6 stolen vehicles recovered
  • 11 firearms seized
  • 174 grams of cocaine seized
  • 40 grams of heroin seized
  • 127,415 grams of methamphetamine seized
  • 3 street takeover events thwarted

According to the Travis County Sheriff’s Office, from March 30 – April 2, DPS booked 61 people compared to APD’s 222. The same report shows that DPS booked seven people with possession of marijuana under two ounces – but they were booked with additional charges.

“What I would characterize as non-traditional arrests for Austin, and by that I mean people being arrested for routine traffic violations for possession of very, very, small amounts of controlled substances,” said criminal defense attorney Rick Cofer, who addressed concerns about the drug arrests and DPS’ focus on the streets.

In 2022, Austin voters passed a measure stopping arrests for low-level marijuana offenses. Rules are different outside of Austin.

We brought these concerns to DPS and the City of Austin. DPS said troopers “cite and release” anything under 4 ounces of marijuana.

A City of Austin spokesperson said, “The majority of arrests that have occurred over the past few days as part of this initiative have been felony arrests of a serious nature. Both agencies have a policy of not making custody arrests solely for low level marijuana possession in Travis County.”

The CMT Awards and Texas Relays drew large crowds over the weekend. APD said it did feel some relief with DPS’ help over the weekend.