Do Austinites support reducing police budget? Surveys offer conflicting data

Racial Justice & Equality Movement

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Ahead of the second round of public comment regarding the City of Austin’s proposed 2020-21 budget, groups on both sides of the police funding debate are sharing conflicting data about how Austinites think the city council should act.

The Austin Justice Coalition, an organization that has called on Austin City Council members to defund the police, shared results of an online survey last week that found 95.8% of respondents support divesting from the Austin Police Department budget.

The survey was conducted using the #WeFund budget tool, which allowed respondents to reallocate funds between departments within the City of Austin’s proposed 2020-21 budget, and featured 1,500 unique responses.

The Austin Justice Coalition released results of a YouGov poll on Wednesday, which found 58% of respondents support or somewhat support diverting funds away from APD to support other programs. YouGov surveyed 504 people online who said they live in Austin.

The Greater Austin Crime Commission, however, commissioned a poll which found a majority of respondents — 53% to 40% — do not support reducing officers.

The poll, conducted by Ragnar Research Partners, surveyed 409 likely Austin voters, with quotas on age, education, ethnicity, gender, and region.

The second of two public input meetings regarding the City of Austin’s proposed FY 2020-21 budget will be held on Thursday. The first meeting, on July 23, featured hundreds of speakers who mostly advocated for reducing the APD budget.

In June, the Austin City Council approved several resolutions focused on police reform and racial justice.

One item directed the City Manager Spencer Cronk to eliminate 100 open, sworn positions within the APD that the department cannot fill and asked him to look at redirecting those funds to other services.

Cronk’s proposed budget calls for taking $11.3 million from APD to allocate into other departments and services.

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