Millions in Austin Police Department cuts ignite city’s experiment in reimagining public safety

August 25, 2020
Community Impact

Austin’s police department will have much less money this year after City Council voted Aug. 13 to remove roughly $150 million from the police budget for fiscal year 2020-21, a reduction of about 35% from City Manager Spencer Cronk’s original July proposal.

The move, which marked the most dramatic police budget cut in memory, reinvested some funds into community programs and reassigned some typical police functions to separate departments. Austin is the only major Texas city to make such a cut to its police budget.

City Council’s unanimous budget approval, which included cutting 150 vacant sworn police officer positions, followed not only 12 hours of public testimony and debate the day prior but also 2 1/2 months of compounding pressure from the community to significantly reduce the budget and reform the department.