Fact Check: Has Austin’s Murder Rate Doubled, According To Chip Roy?

Our weekly check-in with the Texas Truth-O-Meter.

By Brandon Mulder, PolitiFact/Austin American-Statesman; radio story produced by Kristen CabreraJune 16, 2021 1:47 pm, , ,

From PolitiFact Texas:

To U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, Austin leaders’ decision to cut police funding and reduce the size of the city’s police force has led to skyrocketing homicides this year.

The City Council voted last summer to cut $21.5 million from the police budget and shift another $128 million from the Police Department to other city departments. The effect has been a cancellation of a cadet class and the dissolution of some law enforcement units.

In a June 3 interview with the Daily Signal, a conservative news site published by the Heritage Foundation, the Texas Republican argued that these changes have led to “a doubling of murder” that has been harmful to the city’s Black and Latino communities.

Instead, cities should be increasing their law enforcement presence at the ground level to ensure that officers build relationships in their communities, he argued.

“Why are we going the other way?” Roy said. “(Austin leaders say) ‘Oh, let’s reimagine police by getting rid of them.’ What do you have? You have a doubling of murder in Austin, Texas. It’s insane.”

“That’s not good for the communities that are allegedly being helped,” Roy said.

The City Council’s decision to cut its police budget following massive protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death has already drawn scorn from the state’s Republican leaders. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, for instance, said that the cuts made Austin “one of the most dangerous cities in America and definitely in Texas.” We rated that claim Pants on Fire.

More than 20 major U.S. cities slashed police budgets in the aftermath of 2020’s nationwide protests against police brutality. Austin’s cuts, which amounted to about one-third of its police department’s 2020 budget, were the largest in the nation.

It’s now been eight months since Austin’s police budget cuts went into effect. Have murders in the city doubled since then? …

Read the full story and see how Roy’s claim scored at PolitiFact, and listen to an interview with PolitiFact’s Brandon Mulder in the audio player above.

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