Note: we are republishing this story amid nationwide discussion regarding police reform and the relationship between police officers and their communities.
There are currently two billboards sitting on the road along interstate 35 entering Austin. One of them says;
“Warning! Austin defunded police. Enter at your own risk!”
The billboard was installed by Texas Municipal Police Association (TMPA) after the city council voted to cut the Austin police budget last month.
The second billboard on the other hand says;
“Limited support next 20 miles,”
TMPA also said on Facebook that it released the billboards which also had the hashtag #BacktheBlue written on it, to raise awareness that the city is defunded.”
The Lieutenant Governor of Texas, Dan Patrick likewise supported the campaign in a tweet, while Governor Greg Abbott tweeted the message with the hashtag #TexasBacksTheBlue.
The governor also called on all Texan to sign a pledge against the police department defunding and post it on their socials to show solidarity for the law enforcement.
According to some supporters, this does not mean that the council wants to do away with the police department; this is to reallocate some of their funding to other services that need it and could help the community.
With regards to CBSAustin, the council approved a $150 million cut in the Austin Police department funding. They redirected most of the funds to several departments and social services.
It was argued by Austin Mayor Steve Adler and some other council members that the change was made to improve public safety.
He tweeted saying that the budget responds to worries among the community and resonates with the values of the city.
He further added that the new funding would be solely focused on decreasing crime while also maximizing the police department effort.
Besides, Adler made reference to Denver city that recently transformed its police department. Instead of sending police to the non-violent 911 call, Denver chose to send mental health practitioners which frees up their officers for other duties. More so, Adler likewise bragged about the fact that the city (Austin) continues to be the safest in Texas.
Sources: CBS News