Recently, Governor Dan Patrick referred to Austin, Texas as one of the most dangerous cities in America. That statement was made in consideration of the crime levels in Austin. Although the term dangerous was criticized by criminologists, when Austin’s violent crime rates were ranked in comparison with other large U.S cities Austin was nearly top of the list. Austin police reported 3,953 incidents of violent crime in 2019, a rate of about 400 incidents for every 100,000 residents based on information given by FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program.
Among the ranked 30 largest U.S cities, Austin is ranked 28th with a violent crime rate of 400 incidents per 100,000 residents. The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program shows that among 534 Texas cities reporting data. From the Austin Police Department, the most notable statistics include, the violent crime rate of 408 per 100,00 residents. Property crime rate in Austin based on Austin Police Department was reported as 3509 per 100,000 residents which was 13 percent lower than the rate of other large U.S cities. The crime related to reported rapes in Austin are thirty percent higher than the rate of other large U.S cities. The police department reported robbery rate increased by eleven percent from the last year but remains less than half the rate of other large U.S cities. In Austin, crimes rates are high where the rate of about 3.2 murders per 100,000 residents which is the among highest 15th murder rates.
Demographic characteristics of city population affects the rate of crime in cities and therefore, the population and their characteristics. The total population of Austin, Texas is about 964k with a median age of 33.6 and the median household income of $71,543. The population of Austin, Texas grew by 1.42 percent and the median household income at a 5.59 percent increase. There major ethnic groups in Austin, Texas include, White with Non-Hispanic at 48.8 percent and White the Hispanic at 22 percent, Black and African America and Asian at 15.72 percent of the population.
Thirty-two percent of people in Austin, Texas speak non-English language while the major part at eighty-seven are U.S citizens. The largest higher education institution in Austin, Texas are the University of Texas with is in Austin, the Austin Community College District and Saint Edward’s University. In terms of property value, the average property value in Austin, Texas is about $350,000 and the rate for the homeownership of 44.8 percent. Another important demographic information is that most of the people in Austin commute by Drove Alone while the average commute time is at 22 minutes.
Law enforcement agencies having officer in the city which include number of licensed officers. The officer staffing levels in Austin has been increase at the ratio of officers per thousand population. The City has used the principle of two police officer per thousand in an attempt to adequate police staffing. The population of city on 2012 was reported as 824,205 would dictate the sworn staffing of the Austin Police Department at 1,648. The principle of two police officer per thousand ratios is convenient and providing the dependable increase in police staffing as the city’s population rises. The approaches to determine the appropriate size of a given city police department involves the assessment of the agency and the work needed to be performed in the community.
Police staffing in Austin Police Department is considered in terms of the category of work. The categories of work involve the external demands for police services. The external demand services include calls for service and investigation of crimes which results to the requirement of receiving calls, dispatching of officers, managing of record and the processing of evidence. The high population in the city requires more services and reports of crime.
In terms of patrol staffing, the Austin Police Department is divided into four regions foe the patrol function each headed by an Assistant Chief of Police. Each region is divided into multiple sectors where sector is divided into four districts. Each district has officers assigned routinely and multiple officers are involved on the same shift assigned on the same district. There are seven squads in sectors working around four-ten shifts with four days on duty and three days off-duty.
The court have been involved in reducing the crime rates. The court system of the state and the judicial agencies including the Office of Court Administration has the role of interpreting the law and resolve legal disputes. The basic types of cases in Texas court, involve criminal cases and civil cases. Criminal cases are involved in court to charge those that violate criminal statutes. Civil cases are tried in the courts of Texas which involve disputes between two or more parties. The Texas Constitution has established one to eight justice of peace precincts depending on the population of the county in each county. In a county where the population is 150,000 and greater, it is required that more than one justice court should be established in each precinct.
Municipal courts within Austin City are created under the Texas Legislature. These are City courts which have original and exclusive jurisdiction over violations of city ordinances which is within the city limits. The jurisdiction of these city courts equal to the Class C misdemeanor criminal cases where the punishment upon conviction can be done by fine only. Austin hosts one of courts of appeals which has intermediate appellate jurisdiction in both civil and criminal cases from district or county courts.
In terms of incarceration, Texas is among the states leading with the imprisonment of its citizens. Texas has had the nation’s largest incarcerated population with the jurisdiction of its prison system. There is more population under the criminal justice control is more than the entire populations of some states such as Vermont, Wyoming and Alaska. Texas has a rate of 1,035 people behind bars from every 100,000 in the population which is second highest incarceration rate in the country.
The Texas correctional system has grown to be large, where correctional officials did not have six digit numbers for inmate assignment and thereby created the prisoner number 1,000,000. In contrast with the perspective that the Texas prison are a threat to public safety, the truth is the majority of prisoners in Austin City are imprisoned for non-violent offenses. It is important to consider more than two out of every three prisoners enter prison from parole and probation violation. Another important consideration to the statistics, is twenty-one percent of the people in the Texas prisons are due to drug related charges. The effectiveness of increased incarceration has been reducing as a crime control tactic. Research has found that further reforms could reduce Texas’s prison population while achieving this without additional crime.
The perspective of violent crime on the rise is a miss interpretation of the data as the comparison of the period January 2019 through the period June 2020, the amount of crime in Austin has not changed. Generally, the number of crimes that occurred in the first half of 2019 to the first half of 2020, there has been a slight decrease of 4.1 percent. The number of violent crimes increased highly in January and June in 2020 which is a percentage increase of about 7.4 percent. The population of Austin has increase from 2019 through to 2020 which significantly increased the violent crime rate which is the violent crimes per 1,000 residents and a smaller percentage at 5.8 percent while the overall crime rate that of crimes per 1,000 residents decreased by 5.5 percent. In 2019, the violent crime rate was 3.7 incidents per a thousand people which in comparison to the national average crime rate was 3.68.
According to the Austin Police Department, the budget increased by $65 million which is an eighteen percent increase while in the same time, the population of Austin increased by 9.4 percent. Austin has had a 15.5 percent decrease in crime as the current crime rate in 2019 stand as 109 incidents per 1000 people which decrease solely due to non-violent crime reduction. A 13 percent increase to the robberies in Austin contributed an increase in the violent crime rate. In comparison, the rate of robberies in Austin is 68 percent lower than in other US cities.