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Texas DPS will stop patrolling Austin streets for violent crime

For the next two weeks, law enforcement will watch closely for seat belt scofflaws.
Daniel Reese for KUT
The Texas Department of Public Safety won't be patrolling Austin streets anymore.

The Texas Department of Public Safety's Austin Violent Crimes Task Force will no longer patrol the city, starting this weekend. These state troopers were tasked with addressing violent crime and supporting an understaffed police department.

The partnership between the Austin Police Department and DPS began in March and was temporarily suspended in May for state troopers to address border security after the expiration of Title 42, a holdover migration policy from the Trump administration.

The initiative was relaunched a few weeks later but lasted only 10 days before the city and APD formally ended the initiative. State troopers continued to patrol the city as part of their assignment.

The program was not without criticism as members of the community alleged state troopers were racial profiling while they patrolled the city. But then-Police Chief Joseph Chacon defended the officers.

DPS confirmed to KUT that the department will be directing its efforts to border security, after Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law making it a state crime to cross the border illegally.

The agency also said it is “proud of the results that the Austin Violent Crimes Task Force (AVCTF) was able to produce in such a short time.”

As of Dec. 15, state troopers had filed over 2,400 felony and 2,700 misdemeanor charges in the Austin area since March.

Mayor Kirk Watson said the Austin Police Department will graduate a cadet class after Christmas and another in April. He also said the signing bonus program for new cadets that the city implemented “appears to be working.”

“The purpose is to renew those recruiting incentives and guarantee police pay and retirement benefits,” he wrote in a statement to KUT. “We will continue to support our police officers to assure our public's safety. As I've said, our officers have our back and we'll have theirs.”

Correction: A previous version of this story said DPS and APD are suspending their partnership this weekend. The partnership ended in July and DPS has not been operating under APD's oversight since then.

Haya Panjwani is a general assignment reporter, with a focus on Travis County. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @hayapanjw.
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