AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s a Friday night downtown, around 11 p.m., and Officer Gavin Smart’s Sixth Street night patrol shift is just getting started.

“Just trying to organize the chaos,” he said, keeping his eyes focused on the crowds walking down the street.

Within 10 minutes of us filming, officers arrested a man who allegedly picked a fight at a bar. He appeared inebriated and had a cut near his eye.

APD officers said, in some cases, they repeatedly arrest the same person on Sixth Street.
APD officers said, in some cases, they repeatedly arrest the same person on Sixth Street.

Last week, when APD presented during the Downtown Austin Alliance’s monthly safety update, the department said there hadn’t been a shooting on Sixth Street in “months.”

Austin’s Downtown Area Command sees it all.

“A lot of general assaults, robberies, aggravated assaults, stabbings, firearms – things like that,” Smart said.

According to a Sixth Street crime report obtained by KXAN, officers responded to 25 violent incidents between Jan. 1 and May 15. The report included the below crimes:

  • 15 aggravated assaults
  • 9 robberies
  • 1 murder

In 2022, there were a total of four homicides on Sixth Street itself, and two one block away.

Officer Smart said the more violent crimes typically involve people who know each other.

“Sometimes you have antagonistic groups with each other that maybe have beef or anger with each other from outside events, and they’ll run into each other, which that can lead to violence,” he said. “That usually leads to our more aggressive violent acts that involve firearms, weapons and stuff. For the stranger violence – a lot of times we’ll see people that are intoxicated, that’ll be more stranger-on-stranger.”

Some officers credit DPS’ presence in other parts of the city with helping curb crime on Sixth Street by deterring people from driving to the entertainment district with guns and drugs.

That DPS partnership ended two weeks ago but is expected to resume again this summer.