Policing Around Us

Policing around us at a glance

  1. City
    • In Austin, the total current funding for the Austin Police Department is 40% or roughly $400 million.
    • 44% of approved APD contract money is for biometrics/surveillance. One of these contracts is for an Automatic License Plate reader that captured over 25 million license plate readings from 2016-2017 and shared the information with 817 law enforcement agencies.
    • APD has a gang suppression unit and the Austin ISD Police has a joint juvenile gang taskforce. Gang lists and units have a troubled history of racial profiling.
    • While the majority of APD funding comes from the city, APD has also applied for and received external grants. An example is the 1 million dollar grant that APD received from the Department of Justice for the Riverside Togetherness Project (RTP). The RTP increased policing in the Riverside area, where Mike Ramos was shot and killed by APD.
    • The City Manager, Spencer Cronk who recently came to Austin from Mineappolis, is in charge of drafting the budget and present to the City Council for a vote.
    • This year, budget hearings are scheduled for July 23rd, 30th, and August 4th. Final vote to approve the budget will take place from August 12th-14th.
  2. County
    • In Travis County, the Justice System and Public Safety — which includes the Sheriff’s department — take up 1/3 of the county’s general funds.
    • Travis County currently has an electronic monitoring contract with a company owned by prison profiteer CoreCivic as well as database contracts with companies that routinely share information with ICE.
    • Travis County is a partner to the Austin Intelligence Regional Center and has an active contract with them.
    • ICE has open access to the Travis County Jail and all database records.
    • The Preliminary County Budget will be published by July 27, 2020. The budget and tax rate will be adopted on September 29, 2020.
  3. Surrounding Areas
    • While we are focusing our efforts on the City of Austin and Travis County, it is important to keep an eye on our neighboring counties, particularly Bastrop, Williamson, Hays, and Caldwell. Investment of money in policing at the expense of community needs is not exclusive to large urban areas. Suburban and rural counties and cities dedicate significant resources to policing that could be used to infuse local economies. An example of this is the alarming rate of U.S. Department of Agriculture grants that are used for incarceration purposes.
    • In all cities and counties in Texas, policing inevitably leads to the ICE detention and deportation pipeline due to SB4, surveillance, and data sharing.