AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Department of Public Safety will temporarily cease its partnership with the Austin Police Department so that troopers can focus their attention on border cities in the wake of the expiration of Title 42.

In March, the Austin Violent Crimes Task Force, which called on DPS to help patrol Austin, was formed as a way to assist APD.

“The partnership between APD and DPS was definitely successful in the city of Austin,” Austin City Councilmember Mackenzie Kelly said. Kelly represents District 6 in northwest Austin. “Especially in bringing down violent crime and also decreasing response time.”

A city memo sent on April 13 stated there was an overall 25% decrease in violent crime and a 58% decrease in high violent crime in areas DPS was deployed to, but the move did not come without criticism.

“I was not in agreement I did not think it was necessary,” Esmeralda Hernandez, who grew up in Austin, said. “I think we see a lot of over-policing in areas like [78741], Dove Springs… the [78744] area.”

A report from the Travis County Attorney’s Office following the first two weeks of the partnership showed 65% of people arrested by DPS for misdemeanors in Austin were Latino and 23% were Black.

“I would say I would be happier not seeing them come back at all,” Hernandez said.

Mayor Kirk Watson sent KXAN a statement addressing that topic saying, “We have been able to re-calibrate it in an effort to address troubling issues and prevent people from feeling targeted, profiled and over-policed.”

Kelly said she is also worried about APD officers being overworked with the partnership being put on hold.

“I have spoken with officers specifically who do feel overworked, they feel that they are working so hard they are going to burn out,” Kelly said.

Mayor Kirk Watson sent KXAN a statement in response to the partnership being put on hold:

The Texas Department of Public Safety has determined that it needs to deploy additional resources to the border because of the expiration of the federal Title 42 border policy. At the time the partnership was announced, the director of DPS explained that DPS could support and supplement the Austin Police Department because it was able to make Austin a priority. Because of needs that the state sees with the expiration of Title 42, DPS sees the border as a higher priority for its resources at this time.

The partnership has proven what we knew: Austin is seriously understaffed in its police department. The partnership has led to less crime and a reduction in response times when people call for help. We have also been able to re-calibrate it in an effort to address troubling issues and prevent people from feeling targeted, profiled and overpoliced.

The partnership is intended to be a bridge until we can get APD’s staffing level up to a more acceptable level. I believe the City Council will continue to show support for APD officers. That’s why we have not only guaranteed salaries and retirement but also given raises and instituted recruitment and retainage efforts. Now that the May 6 election is over, my hope is we get back to the bargaining table with the Austin Police Association and reach a contract agreement.

Chief Chacon will be in contact with DPS to determine when the partnership can resume. It is anticipated that the effort at the border will be DPS’ priority for at least two weeks.

-Mayor Kirk Watson