In his latest move in a political fight against Austin over police funding, Gov. Greg Abbott says he is considering a proposal to put the state in charge of policing a large area in the middle of the city, including downtown, the Texas Capitol and the University of Texas at Austin.
Abbott floated the idea during a campaign tele-town hall Wednesday while discussing his push to punish cities that "defund the police" during the upcoming legislative session, which begins in January. He has for months railed against the Austin City Council's August vote to slash its police department budget by one-third, primarily by shifting some responsibilities out of law enforcement oversight. He has also already proposed measures such as freezing property tax revenues for cities that cut police budgets, the Texas Tribune reports.
"Something else that I'm thinking about doing, and that is because we have people coming from across the world and across the country into our capital city, as well as to the university, we can't make our fellow Texans be victims of crime ... because of the city of Austin leadership," Abbott said, "and so what I think we need to do is have a Capitol zone area that the state will be in charge of policing, and we can use city of Austin police officers for this."