Drawbacks of the APD Fund Reallocations


Shruti Patel

Austin City Council cuts police department budget by one-third, mainly through reorganizing some duties out from law enforcement oversight.

Max Muzny, Reporter

The Austin City Council has recently taken action by unanimously voting to deprive the Austin Police Department (APD) of 150 million dollars in funding, around one third of the original 434 million dollar budget. This consists of an immediate 21 million dollar deduction going towards other programs, the 80 million dollar Decouple Fund that will transfer specific functions from the APD to civilians, and the 49 million dollar Reimagine Public Safety Fund for eventual new methods of public safety.

This cut from the APD’s funds tries to be helpful by diverting money to help support medical, housing, and social injustice programs while tying them into the blanket term of ‘public safety’ with law enforcement. However, it severely undermines Austin’s police unit, damaging the effectiveness of law enforcement and adversely decreasing the safety of the capital city of Texas.

Budget reallocation will impact the APD tremendously. Direct access to several crucial services previously under police control will no longer be available, poor training and equipment will greatly decrease the efficiency of the officers, and the combined pressure of the protests and the funding cut will shatter the morals of many cops into resigning.

The repercussions from the APD fund reallocations won’t only affect the APD, but Austin residents as well. With the 911 call center being transferred to civilian control and 17.7 million dollars less, emergency calls will no longer go straight to the police. In a life or death scenario such as a school shooting, people who call 911 would no longer have the assurance that the APD would be on the other line.

Another vital function of the APD with a decreased budget is the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), the same police function that worked to identify and disarm the FedEx package bombs from 2018. If a tragedy like this was to happen again, especially with the large increase in online shopping due to COVID-19, the resulting event would be exponentially more dangerous without an EOD with fully funded equipment and training.

Not only will existing services in the APD be less effective, but all three of the cadet classes for next year have been completely defunded and cancelled. In other words, anyone looking to join the APD in 2021 will have no classes to train them for officer duty. This is especially critical due to the number of officers leaving their jobs.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott was definitely aware of this when, in response to the Austin City Council’s decision, he warned them that he would deploy Texas Department of Safety Troopers. He isn’t abusing his authority as it might seem, but rather, he is assuring that the capital of Texas is well protected, even if the city it resides in messes up it’s police force.

There is nothing wrong with diverting money from existing services to support medical, housing, or social injustice programs, but there’s no logic in taking a full third of the APD’s annual budget. The police are a necessary body of law enforcers who risk their lives to keep Austin under control. Why should their pivotal role in Austin’s community be made immensely harder than it already is? Why couldn’t these funds have been taken from elsewhere?

The Austin City Council’s decision to move funds from the police department was not a good one. The detriment to law enforcement seems to surpass the benefits Austin will receive from these reallocations. Nevertheless, the decision has already been made, and all that’s left to do is hope the APD has the endurance to survive.