Texas Governor Greg Abbott made a vow on Monday (May 24) to sign a bill that would prevent city’s abilities to shift funds away from police department budgets. This latest promise adds to the list of actions Abbott has taken to reduce local governments’ authority and comes in response to a shooting in Austin.
“In Texas, we don’t defund or disrespect our police,” Abbott wrote in a tweet posted Sunday (May 23). “Which is why I made legislation preventing cities from defunding the police an emergency item this session,” the post continued. "Texas won't tolerate this," he wrote in another tweet.
According to a report by The Washington Post, Abbott responded to a tweet from the Austin Police Association President Kenneth Casaday who tweeted that it took law enforcement 16 minutes to respond to an emergency call that a man had been shot in the head. Abbott equated the reported length of time of police response in this incident to defunding the police.
The bill, named the Back the Blue Act, would require cities to have an election before they could move funds away from a police budget, reduce the number of officers, or train new officers.
The bill passed in the Texas Senate, which has a Republican majority, but was postponed by the state House.
Abbott, a long opposer of defunding the police, has previously pushed for a number of bills that would impose penalties such as withholding sales tax money from cities that cut police budgets.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler has defended the city’s decision to move funds from police, saying the investment in community resources is the city’s way of “searching for new ways” to keep the city safe.
“We are showing the country how reinvestments from the police budget can actually make many people’s lives so much better and safer,” Austin City Council member Gregorio Casar told The Guardian. “This will build momentum for changes to police budgets across the country.”
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