Austin Recommends Residents Not Call 911 If Robbed

Austin, Texas is recommending that its residents no longer call 911 if robbed at ATM machines, but instead call a non-emergency hotline. The Texas city bucked the state government in 2020 by passing a sharp decrease in its police funding during the 2020 George Floyd riots.

The Austin Police Department posted on social media that if a person is robbed after visiting a bank or ATM they should call the 311 non-emergency hotline “or make an online report.”

“Even if you are cautious & follow all the safety advice, you may still become the unfortunate victim of a robbery,” the department wrote.

In August 2020, the Austin City Council voted unanimously to cut $150 million in police funding. It would be forced to reverse its decision the following year.

Then-City Councilmember Greg Casar (D), now a U.S. representative, said at the time that the “moment has been born out of a lot of hurt in the community. We know we have a long way to go.”

The vote represented a reduction of about one-third of the city’s police budget.

In the $150 million of cuts, the city allocated $80 million to transfer a number of services from the police department to civilian agencies. The city also diverted money to a “Reimagine Safety Fund” intended to promote “alternative forms of public safety and community support through the yearlong reimagining process.”

Since 2020, Austin suffered a 77% increase in car theft and a significant rise in crimes including bodily injury and murder.

The city council also voted to cut 150 officer positions by attrition. Now, the city is offering a $15,000 bonus to recruit new cadets after a wave of officer retirements and leaving for other positions.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called the move an abandonment of Austin’s responsibility to public safety.

“Austin’s decision puts the brave men and women of the Austin Police Department and their families at greater risk and paves the way for lawlessness,” he said.

The concern over crime in Austin follows significant increases in robbery and murder nationwide since 2020. Much of the spike has been concentrated in cities administered by Democrats, often in states that are controlled by the same party.

San Francisco has suffered one of the most severe changes over the last four years, with significant organized retail theft and one of the highest levels of homelessness nationwide.