A newly formed group of interest is the Citizen Led Austin Safety Partnership (CLASP). It is dedicated to encouraging and sustaining a community-wide network of Neighborhood Watch and Patrol leaders.
They report that outgoing City Council again waived the fees for SxSW; and now the Austin Police Department has announced that its plan is to beef up police coverage for this year’s event by 120 officers, including 60 patrol officers that could possibly be pulled from the District Representatives (DRs), Burglary, and TAC programs.
Taking officers from their areas of responsibility to work special events leaves the streets in Austin very low on police coverage. Last year, there were several crime sprees during SxSW, so please be aware and protect your property.
There are a few actions that CLASP suggests. First, protect your property and neighborhoods and work with police to monitor and report criminal activity. 911 should be called for anything suspicious and disruptive during SxSW, March 9-22, so that it will be obvious that the other parts of town need police coverage during that time.
Second, other cities use event fees to hire officers from surrounding cities, so they don’t have to pull so deeply from their own personnel. Doing this would also mean that the taxpayers wouldn’t take a hit on paying overtime. We really need to tell our City Council that we want to stop the fee waivers and the reassignment of so many officers to special events without full reimbursement of expenses. Other cities which do not waive fees still have all the special events business they can handle.
Third, last year, thanks to protests and emails, the North/Northwest police region had to give up officers for SxSW, but didn’t for other events like Halloween. The message was heard, leading to at least some concessions.
CLASP asks that we take a few minutes to email or call the mayor and our City Council member (Kathy Tovo), and then pass this message on to friends and neighbors. Now is the time to help educate the new City Council about public safety.
Also, it was reported at the Commander’s Forum that there have been a number of burglary of vehicles. Purses and other items were stolen from the Hyde Park Baptist Church area and throughout the neighborhood. Please don’t leave any items in your vehicle that could tempt someone to break in. Our District Representative, Josh Metteauer, can be reached at Joshua.firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-974-8124.