AUSTIN, TX — A group that supports and lobbys for law enforcement in Texas has taken to the streets — interstates, rather — to decry Austin City Council's recent decision to cut $150 million from the city's police budget.
The Texas Municipal Police Association (TMPA) has erected two billboards on I-35 near Austin's city limits warning drivers that they are entering a defunded city.
"Warning! Austin police defunded. Enter at your own risk!" the signs read.
In a Facebook post, the TMPA said the billboards are intended to "raise public awareness that Austin is a defunded city."
"This reckless act, a political stunt by the city council pandering to the radical left, will do nothing but endanger the people of Austin," the post reads.
Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick shared a photo of one of the billboards on Twitter.
"Thank you to the Texas Municipal Police Association for these great new billboards that went up in Austin today," Patrick wrote online. Austin City Council "ignored public safety and made a dangerous decision to" defund police.
Thank you to the Texas Municipal Police Association for these great new billboards that went up in Austin today. @austintexasgov ignored public safety and made a dangerous decision to #defundpolice #bigmistake #backtheblue #txlege pic.twitter.com/bGO8X1Hyur
— Dan Patrick (@DanPatrick) September 9, 2020
In August, the city's council voted to reduce the police department's budget from $434 million to about $290 million.
Among the approved cuts to police funding:
A $20 million cut primarily taken from cadet classes and overtime in a move to reinvest in permanent supportive housing and services, EMS for COVID-19 response, family violence shelter and protection, violence prevention, workforce development and a range of other programs.
Transfer of police functions (and related funding of nearly $80 million) out of the department over the course of the fiscal year. These include Forensics Sciences, Communications/911 call center, strategic support, and internal affairs.
Create a Reimagine Safety Fund to divert almost $50 million from APD toward alternative forms of public safety and community support, to be delivered from outside APD, as determined through the year-long reimagining process.
Patch editor Tony Cantu contributed to this report