United States: One year after the death of George Floyd, the city of Austin “reinvents” its public safety by cutting the budget of its police force

A progressive enclave in conservative Texas, Austin set aside a third of law enforcement resources after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. A year later, franceinfo is examining the first lessons of this reform.

In the Texas capital, police breaches are nothing new. In five years, at least 35 people have died during police interventions. In Austin, as in the rest of the United States, black residents are too often targeted by men in uniform. A deputy police chief was withdrawn in the fall of 2019, accused of racist remarks made for a decade. “A discussion then began on how to reinvent our public safety , tells Franceinfo Natasha Harper-Madison, member of the municipal council. The best way was to rethink the police budget.”

The police violence of the year 2020 will give the impetus to this reform. In the Texas city, Michael Ramos, a black and Hispanic man, died under gunfire by an officer in April. A month later, in Minneapolis, an African-American, George Floyd , is killed by a white policeman, Derek Chauvin. This murder triggers massive pressure from the streets for budget cuts. Since then, Austin, a progressive island in a republican state, has become the most advanced metropolis in the United States in the definition of law enforcement , according to Bloomberg *. With what effects?

Less police, more social and medical

Until last year, funding for law enforcement * in the Texas capital represented 40% of the municipal budget. The new budget, passed in August 2020, pauses a 50% increase in spending over seven years, reports the Texas Monthly *. Appropriations for police officers are reduced from $ 434.4 million to $ 292.9 million per year.

This reduction results in the elimination of 180 police posts – including 150 vacant – out of a total of approximately 1,800 officers. The training of four new promotions of police officers is delayed, and the budget dedicated to overtime reduced.

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