by Daniel Kalder
Tuesday, 14
December 2021
Dispatch
07:00

Austin pays the price for defunding the police

The city experienced a record number of murders this year
by Daniel Kalder
Credit: Getty

Texas

Once known as a laid-back college town with more than its fair share of eccentric inhabitants, Austin has been radically transformed over the past decade. Not only is it emerging as a major tech hub, but in the last 18 months the city has also acquired such high-profile residents/evangelists as Joe Rogan and Elon Musk.

But the city has changed in other ways, too — and not for the better. Dramatic population growth has brought with it skyrocketing house prices and an increase in homelessness. And then there is the homicide rate. 88 people have been murdered in the city so far this year, beating the previous record of 59 in 1984 — and almost double last year’s total of 48 (which was in itself a 28% increase on 2019).

This jump in homicides follows last August’s vote by Austin city council to defund the police, reallocating 30% of the budget — some $150 million in all — to areas such as food access and something called “violence prevention”.

Since this is all rather inconvenient for the narrative, Austin’s murder boom has led to a fair bit of chin scratching in the media. For instance, in this interview with Austin police chief Joseph Chacon, the writer states twice that murder is on the increase in all major American cities, giving the impression that something strange and inexplicable is going on. Mysterious “crime experts” are mentioned who posit that people may be murdering each other from pandemic stress and economic uncertainty, although given that overall crime is down since 2010, “pandemic stress” must be quite selective in how it causes people to break the law.

Although it is true that many American cities have seen an increase in murder this year, even the slightest digging shows that not all homicide jumps are equal, especially in Texas. No other city has come close to seeing the murder rate almost double in 2021, and only Austin defunded the police. Dallas, in fact, has seen a decline in homicides, so it’s not as if we are looking at an immutable law of nature.

In the above interview, Chacon makes an obvious point: the fewer police you have, the longer it takes to respond to respond to a shooting. Currently, the 1600 strong police force is short 200 officers and it takes nine minutes to arrive at the scene of a shooting or an assault. Chacon wants to reduce that to six and a half minutes; it doesn’t look as though he will be able to do that any time soon, as a recent ballot designed to force the city to hire hundreds of new police officers failed at the polls.

Even so, change may be in the air. When noted political loser Beto O’Rourke ran against Ted Cruz in 2018 he was not shy about staking out extremely progressive political positions; but as he prepares to run for the governorship he has been distancing himself from the defund the police movement which he had once feted. Could this be a sign that, confronted by some rather ugly numbers, the enlightened ones are finally preparing to adopt a new narrative? We will see.

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Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
7 months ago

A disclaimer – I have never been to Austin but have visited other cities in Texas many times.

For many years now US cities have been working on two levels. The poor area, usually with many immigrants, gets poorer and the richer people move out to better neighbourhoods. Drug gangs and violence follow to replace the richer people.

In the US the poorer people are not the tax payers and the richer people won’t pay for the poor people. The richer people even pay for their own private security. So money is removed from the police budget.

This is stupid because in the end the richer people will suffer; they will become victims of violence and their children will be attracted by drugs.

All cities in the world suffer in this way but the US is worst of all because they won’t pay taxes – taxes are for dum-dums.

Last edited 7 months ago by Chris Wheatley
Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
7 months ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Hmm, that is rather a ‘progressive’ slant on an article showing the disastrous nature of at least one keynote progressive policy.

Yes, it is true that middle class people often move outside the city limits which sometimes do not comprise all the ‘metro’ area, and thereby do not pay taxes to the city. But this is a different phenomenon, an ideological anti-police measure which is bound – in fact intended to – decrease their effectiveness.

From the perspective of an ordinary citizen, why should I even wish to pay taxes to city administrations who fail in their very first duty of protecting the lives, yes, AND property, of their citizens, of any race or colour, if I have any choice in the matter? They could even use my taxes to pursue actively harmful and divisive policies, such as teaching ‘white privilege’, and poor schooling dominated by left wing teaching unions etc.

We have examples of where the police have been removed, there was the Murray Hill police strike in Canada, which had appalling results.

Last edited 7 months ago by Andrew Fisher
Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
7 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

OK, everybody has a viewpoint. But small-minded politicians as targets are too easy. If the voters or the tax payers make enough fuss, they get what they want. If they sit at home and develop a theory behond a computer but then don’t do anything, then they get what they deserve.

Marcia McGrail
Marcia McGrail
7 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Will y’all quit with this ‘Of any Race’ already? – there is only one. The human race.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
7 months ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

My understanding of American cities is the people with money are moving back into the city, gentrifying big swaths. This is how I made my money – buying big houses in once prosperous parts of a city, which went to hel* and were now gentrifying. (I have mentioned my buying crack houses in neighborhoods turning – getting in cheap, rebuilding and making a lot of money – often this bad house was holding the prices low, and when fixed up went way up.

People like the trendy inner city – bars, galleries, coffee, restaurants, theater, music, that the soul less suburb totally lack.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
7 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

But they don’t want a police force?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
7 months ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Those ones in the now expensive urban parts do, but such parts have not got bad crime as the low income are displaced – the ones with money are in areas already gentrified – it is the ones in areas gentrifying who have the crime problems, but they are the uber liberal avant guard troops moving into the questionable neighborhoods, and have risk tolerance. I know the process well – once it is gentrified the police do patrol much more aggressively – they have to, political and economic power is in that neighborhood now. It is lawlesness in the less good places they tolerate – in the name of sicial justice and inclusivity.

Bob Taylor
Bob Taylor
7 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Nothing says “soul” like a gentrified inner city.

Sean Penley
Sean Penley
7 months ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Wow, which cities are these where you get to decide whether or not you pay taxes? If I didn’t like where I am so much I would consider moving? Can I not pay state or county or federal tax too? Why didn’t anyone mention this before?

Kat L
Kat L
7 months ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Yah that’s utter nonsense. The middle class pays more than any other. But hey if you come from a mindset that money fixes all social ills then you will never be satisfied.

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
7 months ago

Why do voters continue to support policies, like defund the police, even after they obviously fail? Identity voting. No matter how bad the government gets, your identity doesn’t change. If your identity says you vote for Democrats, then you vote for them regardless of what they do. If your identity group supports defund the racist police, you vote for it.

Why are Democrats obsessed with race? Because it promotes strong identity voting, both by inner city minority neighborhoods and white liberal communities. Nobody will even consider voting for racist Republicans, no matter how badly Democrats govern.

Dissident liberals dream of third parties or “independent” Democrats to vote for, so they won’t be forced to vote Republican. However, once Nancy Pelosi gets a hold of “independent” Democrats, they vote exactly how Pelosi tells them to, and rachet up goverment control of everything. “Moderate” Joe Biden becomes bait and switch Let’s go Brandon.

Last edited 7 months ago by Douglas Proudfoot
Emre Emre
Emre Emre
7 months ago

Focus on identity politics is a double gambit against two reactionary populist movements on both left and right.
Firstly, it defends the Democrat home turf. It chases away the traditional Marxist populists who focus on worker-rights and unions. Only a few years ago, Bernie Sanders was comfortable enough to complain about foreign workers being imported by big business to threaten American salaries. He wouldn’t dare talk like that now.
Secondly, as you say, it ties in the minority vote as well as depress support for Republican pouplists from the higher educated.

Last edited 7 months ago by Emre Emre
David McDowell
David McDowell
7 months ago

Nothing to do with crime numbers and everything to do with electoral numbers in Beto’s case. Hopefully his opponents will remind voters how Beto wanted to leave them prey to murderers, rapists and robbers.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
7 months ago

It is a mass psychosis. In the middle ages history tells of whole parts of cities going crazy with mass shaking and shrieking, or

“According to J. F. Hecker’s 1844 book, The Epidemics of the Middle Ages, citing an unnamed medical textbook, a nun who lived in a French convent during an unspecified time in the Middle Ages inexplicably began to meow like a cat, shortly leading the other nuns in the convent to meow as well. Eventually, all of the nuns in the convent would meow together for a certain period, leaving the surrounding community astonished. This did not stop until the police threatened to whip the nuns”

Then there was the ‘Great Disappointment’ which ultimately led to the Seventh Day Adventist forming.

Belgian psychologist Mattias Desmet has been making the Youtube Talk show rounds on his theory of ‘mass formation psychosis’ which explains the rise of every totalitarian, Hit* er and so on – and says it is at full bore right now, and will lead to utter totalitarianism and huge acts of genocide and death if it continues.

GA Woolley
GA Woolley
7 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

It’s manufactured and manipulated mass hysteria, fed by social media and the MSM. You only need look at TikTok; Chinese owned and controlled (though not permitted in China itself) it only needs to seed a few threads with ideas such as accusing teachers of child abuse, then it can stand back and watch the pile-ons of suggestible kids, tearing our social fabric apart.

Paul Hughes
Paul Hughes
7 months ago

Fewer police results in greater lawlessness. Well who’d have thought?

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
7 months ago

I have a theory. What if ‘defunding the police’ is really about getting the middle-classes out of urban areas? Crime drives people out and property prices down. The rich buy everything up and resell or rent at much higher rates.