AUSTIN—City officials told robbery victims to forego calling emergency services and instead, call a number often used to report graffiti and potholes.

On social media earlier this week, the Austin Police Department posted a graphic asking, “Did you get robbed on your way back from a bank or ATM?”

In response to their question, the post featured three bullet points with instructions for victims, including telling them to call 311—a non-emergency city hotline—instead of 911.

One citizen criticized the department on social media for potentially turning crime victims away from the emergency 911 phone number.

“Some thought I was crazy for carrying a gun and taking self-defense seriously,” said Tucker Max. “Now, Austin—the capital of TEXAS—is so crime ridden, police say call 311 if you’re robbed. Not 911. 311. A bureaucratic reporting line. There are no more safe places. Only safe people.”

The city’s website highlights how citizens can use the 311 number, including filing police reports for “non-emergency incidents.”

“On the go and need to report an issue to the City of Austin? Download the Austin 3-1-1 mobile app today! You can report potholes, graffiti, loose dogs, and much more with just a few clicks,” wrote the city.

Four days after posting the graphic, the Austin Police Department replied to their original message stating, “CLARIFICATION: When a robbery occurs, callers should be reporting these crimes to 9-1-1.”

Less than a month before this, the City of Austin announced the retirement of Police Chief Joseph Chacon.

Interim City Manager Jesús Garza later selected Austin Police Department Chief of Staff Robin Henderson to replace Chacon.

Although public safety advocates have praised Henderson, they expressed low expectations for any improvement in the Austin policing crisis with the current city government in charge.

“Austin will never be able to retain an experienced, well-rounded Chief for any amount of time with a Council who refuses to ratify a contract and a DA who removes less lethal options and continues to harass LEOs [Law Enforcement Officers],” Jennifer Hackney-Szimanski, public affairs director for the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT), posted on X.

After the 2020 riots, the APD budget was defunded by $150 million—roughly a third of its total budget—under the Democrat-run City Council.

More than 800 officers have left the APD in the last six years.

“Austin has 400 fewer police officers today than we did three years ago and hardly a day goes by when there isn’t a critical incident in our city,” said Save Austin Now co-founders Matt Mackowiak and Cleo Petricek.

They continued, saying, “Until City Hall rejects the poison of police abolitionists and their allied activists and ensures we have a strong, adequately staffed police department, public safety will continue to deteriorate.”

Katy Marshall

Katy graduated from Tarleton State University in 2021 after majoring in history and minoring in political science.