AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin City Council—and two members specifically—are being blamed by the head of police in Houston for a weak showing of Democrats in Tuesday’s statewide elections.
In a tweet on Tuesday night, Houston Police Department Chief Art Acevedo said, “Texas Democrats can thank “socialist democrats and defund the police crowd” led by @GregCasar, @JimmyFlannigan and the rest of the Austin City Council. Fact, Americans and Texans want better policing, not de-policing, and they don’t want anything to do with any form of socialism.”
Casar, who Acevedo specifically named in the tweet, replied Wednesday, “After last night’s election, Austin is now the only big Texas city with no elected Republicans – and that’s for a reason. Austin voters have clearly mandated progressive priorities. In fact, every Democratic candidate that voted for police reforms won the most votes in Austin’s elections last night.”
Acevedo’s complaint in the tweet references Austin City Council’s move in August to begin transitioning about $150 million from the Austin Police Department’s budget into other areas of public health and safety.
Casar said at the time: “I think we’ve shown that we are shifting away from over-policing our community’s challenges and instead funding community solutions.”
Austin City Council’s budget also did not include funding for new cadet classes—effectively canceling planned classes in November and in March and June 2021.
The budgetary cuts came after protests over the summer where Austin officers were severely criticized for their response. The Office of Police Oversight, an independent non-police agency, released 227 formal complaints related to APD actions during the protests.
Complaints included concerns over use-of-force against protesters as well as specific complaints regarding personal physical injuries.