Austin PD “Defunded”; Local Police Chief Speaks Out

Cedar Hill Police Chief Reyes
Cedar Hill's Police Chief Reyes spoke about defunding police departments

City of Austin Cuts Police Department Budget

CEDAR HILL – Several weeks ago the City of Austin cut its police department budget by $150,000 million.

Governor Greg Abbott said he believes the vote by the Austin City Council “puts the brave men and women of the Austin Police Department and their families at greater risk.”

Local police chief Ely Reyes from the City of Cedar Hill spoke about it Friday morning at the Best Southwest TGIF breakfast series hosted by Senator Royce West and State Representative Carl Sherman.

The breakfast series was a law enforcement panel with Dallas County Sheriff Marian Brown, Duncanville Police Chief Robert Brown, DeSoto Police Chief Joe Costa and Cedar Hill’s Reyes who is from Austin and was a former Assistant Police Chief in that city with the department for more than 20 years.

Reyes said there were roughly 100 vacant positions in the Austin Police Department and that this money would affect the hiring to fill those positions among other areas in the department.

At the breakfast meeting Friday morning Reyes added “the reallocating of the money does need to occur, but it needs to be well thought out.”

It was also mentioned that the word “defunding” has been loosely used since defunding in the case of the Austin Police Department was a budget cut.

Also, of importance is the fact that police departments are being asked to do jobs that in some cases are not part of what a police officer should do. For example, mental health issues. Reyes said, perhaps it is not defunding – but reimagining with help in areas such as mental health issues.

Dallas County Judge Jenkins Forms A task force

Recently, at another meeting, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins released a report to advance social justice and policing reforms.

The meeting participants developed 10 directives aimed to tackle the problem directly. Jenkins was asked to form a working group of community and city leaders to see how local tax dollars could work toward the group’s goal.

“Our initial Zoom call wasn’t just about feeling heard, it was about developing an opportunity for real systemic change,” Jenkins said.

“We are in a moment of crisis, and it requires us to transform the ways we operate,” said Sara Mokuria of Mothers Against Police Brutality. “This is not the moment for incremental steps and small tweaks to the system.”

Reyes said Friday at the BSW breakfast panel said, “protests and riots cause a knee jerk reaction.” He reiterated defunding takes time and “that needs to be thought out.”

Governor Greg Abbott Discourages Defunding PD’s in Texas

Gov. Abbott spoke about defunding police departments in a press conference in Fort Worth last week too, where he said he discouraged the defunding of law enforcement in Texas. Also, his office issued a press release with his proposal where it was also mentioned that any city that defunds its police department will have its property tax revenue frozen at the current level.

“Part of our job as state leaders is to ensure the safety and security of all Texans, and we will not allow this core function to be undermined by cities that seek to defund and dismantle law enforcement agencies that have a sworn duty to protect our communities,” said Governor Abbott. “Defunding the police puts Texans in danger and invites lawlessness into our cities, and cities that endanger their residents should not be able to turn around and raise more taxes from those same Texans. I strongly urge the Texas Legislature to take up this important issue next session to protect their constituents and ensure law enforcement have the resources and support they need to protect their communities.”