AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Police Chief Brian Manley says there will be an increased officer presence in downtown Austin, going to a mandatory 100% staffing, in response to recent violent crimes in the area.
Additional officers will also be added to each shift, including personnel from the narcotics and gang units, according to Manley.
The chief says, “the increase will begin this upcoming weekend (August 2-4), and carry on for the weeks to follow until APD feels like they have addressed the issue, or until they have identified alternative ways to maintain the safety in this area.”
Manley also said they are exploring the possibility for better lighting downtown, creating better visibility for the officers and the community.
“It’s a growing entertainment district. The area has expanded, so we’re adjusting our plans to meet this growing need,” Manley said.
He also responded to comments from Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday in regards to crime in downtown. The APA president recently said the force has become soft on violent crime.
“I find these comments insulting to the hard working men and women of APD,” Manley said. “The fact is Austin is a safe city,”
Manley says he spoke to Casaday, who told him it was a bad choice of words.
However, Austin has seen an increase in violent crime in downtown compared to this point in 2018. There have been 59 robberies in 2019, compared to 33 last year. Aggravated assaults in downtown have risen to 90 this year, compared to 60 last year, according to Manley.
Austin Police are taking these measures after two shootings near East Seventh Street in the downtown area in the past two weeks.
The first shooting occurred July 21 at East Seventh Street and Red River Street after an altercation in a night club. The fight spilled out on the street where 26-year-old Reginald Thomas allegedly shot a woman, according to an arrest affidavit.
Thomas has a warrant out for his arrest on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, Manley says.
The second shooting happened Saturday, July 27 at 9:40 p.m. in the 500 block of East Seventh Street. A man was shot in the thigh following a fight, according to an affidavit.
Moses Mohinga, 18, has a warrant out for his arrest on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Austin Police will also increase patrols at The Domain following stabbing
Chief Manley says the department will also increase its presence at The Domain after a stabbing there over the weekend.
It happened early Sunday morning at the 77 Degrees Rooftop Bar on Rock Rose Avenue.
Manley says several people got into a fight waiting in line at the bar, then one man pulled out a knife and stabbed someone several times. According to Manley, the victim has serious injuries but is expected to survive.
“This was a very horrific and dangerous incident, but it was one incident,” Manley said, noting that data shows The Domain is a safe area. “We’re not going to just not pay attention to that, so we will have a greater presence, but keep in mind the number of incidents that have occurred there with only 15 violent crimes throughout the entire year, it is an area that’s very safe.
“However, with any entertainment district, you do have to pay attention to it, because you’ve got very large crowds, and obviously you’ve got alcohol involved, as well.”
Manley says APD has seen a 12 percent decrease in violent crime at The Domain from this time last year.