The city of Austin’s recent move to cut millions from local law enforcement may end up backfiring in a big way.
In the wake of the city’s defunding decision, concerned citizens and top officials alike have begun publicly discussing plans for a state takeover of the Austin Police Department. Proponents argue that the state has a special duty to preserve public safety in the Capitol City since it is the seat of government, the base of operations for numerous state agencies, and the home to a vast workforce.
In turn, this has prompted some local politicians, including the mayor of Austin, to suggest that a state takeover “is something that’s not legal.” However, experts advise otherwise, as recently noted by the Austin American-Statesman. The paper wrote:
“…there is nothing in the Texas Constitution prohibiting a state takeover of a local police department.”
In the absence of concerns over its legality, the plan has begun to court some high-profile supporters, including Gov. Abbott, who teased the following on social media last week.
While it’s still too early to tell whether the idea has a chance at becoming reality, the notion of a state takeover is not unprecedented. In 1993, the Texas Department of Public Safety took over certain policing duties “for the roughly 50 square blocks surrounding the Texas Capitol.” That event could serve as a template for a future takeover of a more ambitious nature.
Should the Texas Capitol District eventually take root, the city of Austin will have no one to blame but itself.