AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Municipal Police Association (TMPA) and members of the Austin Justice Coalition view data on DPS traffic stops differently.
A group of about 20 people organized by the Austin Justice Coalition took to the City Hall steps Thursday to express their concerns.
Those concerns are largely tied to where DPS is more heavily patrolling.
The Austin Police Department (APD) dictates where DPS focuses its patrols based on 911 call data for violent crimes. We learned this week, those neighborhoods are Rundberg, Cameron Road and Riverside.
“We are Latino-community majority. With African Americans we make up 90 percent of people of color in our Montopolis community,” said Montopolis Neighborhood President Susana Almanza at Thursday’s press conference.
The Texas Municipal Police Association (TMPA) sees this data differently and said traffic stops in high-crime areas are pivotal to getting drugs and dangerous people off the street.
“I think we need to keep in mind this rhetoric about the racial profiling is taking away from the real underlying issue. The underlying issue is we need a better cooperative effort between our law enforcement and the people they serve in order to better protect our citizens,” said TMPA Executive Director Kevin Lawrence.
The other concern critics of DPS’ Austin patrols have are about statistics that show most DPS troopers have pulled over are Hispanic.
“They’re literally doing stops and hoping they catch something else, so I think there’s just far too many of those stops,” said Chas Moore with the Austin Justice Coalition.
Lawrence said that more than 95% of the time, officers don’t know the race of the person they’re pulling over.
The police chief and interim city manager make decisions related to the partnership. City Council has the authority to direct the city manager to end the APD/DPS partnership.