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The City of Austin Defunds Police, But Creates Office of Violence Prevention

By Blue Canaries

It should come to no surprise to anyone that the City of Austin thinks it is reinventing the wheel by creating an Office of Violence Prevention. What may come as a surprise is that Austin City Councilmember Alison Alter (District 10) wishes to treat “gun violence as a disease” and seeks to “apply a public health approach utilizing an equity lens to develop interventions that prevent violence and support our community.”
FOX 7 Austin Reports on New Office of Violence Prevention

It should also be mentioned that Councilmember Alter created the city’s Task Force on Gun Violence in 2019, which also came up with the idea of the new Office of Violence Prevention. The funding of this new office comes at the expense of Austin Police Department, which had about $150 million cut from their police budget in 2020 by the Austin City Council and Mayor. Since then, Austin has had a dramatic increase in violent crimes, including homicides, which now have reached the level of 42 for the year 2021.

The city announced on June 10th that Michelle Myles would serve as the program manager for the Office of Violence Prevention, effective immediately. There was no press conference or photos released for Ms. Myles, but I did find this photo of Michelle Myles on the Caritas of Austin website. The press release stated that Ms. Myles previously served in the Austin Public Health Homeless Services Division and that she will work under the direction of Interim Austin Public Health Director Adrienne Sturrup.

An article was written by Chris Davis of Austin ECHO, about Ms. Myles accomplishments while serving as Acting Program Manager for Austin Public Health. She worked on a project Eating Apart Together, which provided “Bags of Love” to homeless people.

Hmmm… I have heard of a program like this before in Austin. Its called “Bags of Grace” and it is a Christian outreach which was started in 2003 in Austin, Texas.

I should note that I could not find any Law Enforcement experience in her or of Alison Alter’s background. Taking away money from the Police Department, which have decades of experience and putting it into the hands of people who sit around in think tanks with ZERO experience on the streets is ludicrous. Just like the City of Austin approving a $190K contract with The National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (NICJR). From their website, “NICJR works to reduce incarceration and violence, improve the outcomes of system-involved youth and adults, and increase the capacity and expertise of the organizations that serve these individuals.” How will signing a contract with NICJR help reduce homicide rates in Austin? Perhaps this is why we witnessed two underage persons who were involved with the 6th Street mass shooting have their charges dropped and released? It certainly makes one wonder if they have ANY clue as to the ramifications of their social experiment.

Councilmember Alter’s statement to treat “gun violence as a disease” is very concerning and everyone who lives or visits Austin should worry about what exactly she meant by this. Does it mean that those who commit murder should not be punished because they are sick? Does it mean that those who are illegally carrying weapons, get into fights and shoot innocent people are only doing so because they suffer from some sort of disease?

The Task for Gun Violence which Alter created also discusses preventing violence before it happens, which is nothing new. They are attempting to repackage an old solution to violent crime and gun violence. It is called Proactive Policing and it has been around for decades actually. There are two components to policing in America… proactive policing and reactive policing. Proactive Policing concentrates on crime trends in certain areas and looks at ways to alleviate violence in areas by use of increased patrol units, community engagement, and other means in order to combat crime in certain areas. Austin Police Department has been quite successful with proactive policing in the past. Restore Rundberg was one such proactive policing operation. Unfortunately, with all the recent cuts to the police budget, APD is left only with Reactive Policing. The ones complaining about preventing violence are the same ones in favor of defunding police units which were designed to do just that… prevent violence.

I found this statement on Michelle Myles’ LinkedIn page. My advice to her, as the New Director of Violence Prevention, would be to ask the Austin Police Department why their most passionate people have become quiet, quit, or retired in the past year?

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