AUSTIN (KXAN)— A downtown business that’s been a victim of crime more than once in downtown Austin and the Downtown Alliance hosted a lunch Monday to thank Austin Police Department officers.
Royal Blue Grocery said it has noticed a difference since APD increased patrol efforts downtown.
“In fact, to the point where I picked up the phone and called Lt. [Christopher] Juusola…and said, ‘Hey, what’s going on? What are you guys doing differently?” Royal Blue Grocery Owner Craig Staley said.
The Downtown Austin Alliance said APD began its new approach after it had a meeting with APD higher-ups less than a month ago.
“We were sharing our concerns for some deteriorating conditions down here,” Brandon Fahy with the Downtown Austin Alliance said.
Staley and the Downtown Alliance said they wanted to throw a block-style lunch on Monday to show their gratitude.
Since Sept. 30, Juusola said 120 APD officers who work in the downtown area have been working overtime in order to provide increased patrols.
It’s what Juusola describes as a holistic enforcement approach to problems in the area, which includes getting continued feedback from stakeholders to pinpoint specific problems, creating more of a police presence in problem areas, and working with the City of Austin to help people on the streets who might be involved in crimes get connected to resources they need.
“Oftentimes, people are always mad at the police for doing too much or not doing enough,” Juusola said. “So, I think that we found the right balance.”
Juusola continues to oversee the downtown team. He said the City Manager’s Office approving money to pay officers overtime has made the increased focus possible.
He said he thinks other areas around Austin could use what they’re doing as a model, but the staffing shortage is still a challenge.