AUSTIN (KXAN) — Save Austin Now announced Friday a new project focused on holding the Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza and County Attorney Delia Garza accountable “on behalf of crime victims” after House Bill 17 took effect on Friday.
Save Austin Now, along with the Law Enforcement Association of Texas (CLEAT) and SafeHorns, launched the website, Garzawatch.com, to track progress and seek relevant information from the community, the release said.
HB 17, authored by Texas Rep. David Cook, (R-Mansfield), allows Texas residents to call for removal of a district attorney if the DA chooses not to prosecute certain crimes.
Texas residents can file a petition that accuses the district attorney of “incompetency, official misconduct or intoxication,” according to reporting by The Texas Tribune.
On Friday, the Travis County District Attorney’s office in a statement to KXAN said, “The Travis County District Attorney’s Office is focused on solutions that keep our community safe, not on the Police Union’s political games. Republican-led efforts to subvert local democracy undermine our public safety.”
In the release, Save Austin Now co-founder Matt Mackowiak said the initiative is aimed at making local prosecutors “accountable.”
“Republican led efforts to create fear in our community are not productive or community centered. Travis County residents and voters care about data and facts, and the truth is we continue to be a safe community. The Travis County Attorney’s Office continues to prioritize the prosecution of violent crime and reviewing every case on an individual basis,” the Travis County Attorney’s Office said in a statement Friday.
“This accountability project has new urgency with HB 17 taking effect, which provides a process for removing top local prosecutors if they refuse to enforce the law or ignore specific categories of criminal violations,” Mackowiak said in the release.
In the release, Save Austin Now co-founder Cleo Petricek said HB 17 is a first step “in restoring balance to a troubling trend in which victims have no voice.”
Save Austin Now said the launching of the website is a way information can be provided of “habitual offenders or tell their stories of how they became a victim of crime.”