Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick called the City of Austin a "disaster" and said it's now "one of the most dangerous cities in America and definitely in Texas" after funding changes to the Austin Police Department.
Patrick made the comment at a "Back the Blue" press conference in Houston on Wednesday.
Earlier this month, Governor Greg Abbott blamed rising property crime rates in the capital city on "defunding" and "deemphasizing" police.
Patrick also mentioned a plan floated by Gov. Abbott earlier this year about the Texas Department of Public Safety taking over the Austin Police Department after Austin City Council voted in August to cut $150 million from APD, with immediate cuts totaling $21.5 million.
Patrick also claims that parents are "afraid" to send their kids to the University of Texas because "Mayor Adler has defunded the police."
Gov. Abbott has directing DPS to increase patrols around the University of Texas in response to robberies in the West Campus area this month.
Read Patrick's full comments below:
The city of Austin is a disaster, if you haven't been there, a great city now one of the most dangerous cities in America and definitely in Texas. We have already been talking with the Governor and I talked with others about taking over Austin, the state taking over policing in that city and if that is the plan that will be a high priority bill for the senate to pass.
The budget is usually number one but that will be in the top 5 but we will pass that bill and if we have to protect the citizens of Austin from the bridge to beyond UT Campus where parents now are afraid to send their students because Mayor Adler has defunded the police and the city council has defunded the police endangering the police and all the citizens. Then that's what we are going to do and the next session we know the budget will be tight but there always dollars to defend the police and the citizens lives that's our number one job.
I'm proud that we in the Senate and the House in 2015 passed the law for body cameras, I am proud.... we have done it all in Texas we are not going to tolerate.
The basis for Patrick's claims is unclear, as the FBI reports that Austin's violent crime rate is lower than Texas as a whole.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler responded to CBS Austin, pointing out that according to Crime Mappers, Austin is not even in the top 10 for most dangerous cities in the U.S.:
“I think the governor is coming after Austin right now because we’re getting closer and closer to the election, and he’s looking for a way to make people scared, so that they vote for people in his party.”
“We took about 4% out of our police budget and what we said was we’re not going to fire any officers, we’re not going to cut any officers’ pay, but we’re going to take some unfilled positions and we’re going to take that money and we’re going to take some of the people that are experiencing homelessness and in tents and on our corners, off our corners, and not in tents, we’re going to put them in housing, so that our police don’t have to spend time with them.”