AUSTIN—As Texas Department of Public Safety Troopers supplement Austin Police amid a staffing shortage, Travis County Attorney Delia Garza says they are creating a backlog.
Local news station KXAN received an email from Garza as part of an open records request into the DPS-APD partnership, where Garza shared concerns with her staff about DPS creating a backlog.
According to the County Attorney’s office, DPS has tripled the amount of misdemeanor charges filed in 2023 from the charges filed in 2022.
The largest category of misdemeanor charges filed by DPS was for DWIs, while possession of marijuana was a close second.
“With an increase in arrests that are low level, nonviolent types of arrests, it pulls our prosecutors away from doing work on more violent types of crimes,” Garza told KXAN.
However, local citizens took a different perspective.
“Ridiculous… the county att[orne]y prosecutes low level crimes and misdemeanors, that’s their job. So they are saying they don’t want to do the job then find someone else who will. Don’t break the law if you don’t want to get pulled over or change the law if you don’t like it,” said one Austin resident in response to Garza’s statements.
“I don’t consider a DWI a non-violent crime,” added another.
“With DPS making so many seizures and arrests, how are her prosecutors going to have ANY time building cases against citizens using force in self-defense, cops doing their jobs, or small-business owners trying to run their stores? Priorities, people!” came the sarcastic response of another citizen.
As of September 15, DPS seized 7.72 lbs. of heroin and 615.57 lbs. of cocaine, recovered 220 stolen vehicles, seized 209 firearms, and worked 359 crash investigations since the DPS-APD partnership began in March.
DPS presence in Austin underwent a brief hiatus following the expiration of Title 42 in May, when troopers were pulled from the city and sent to border towns. Troopers returned to Austin in July but were told to leave shortly thereafter by the Austin City Council.
The city still has around 300 vacant positions in APD that it says will take “years” to fill.
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.
Garza did not respond to Texas Scorecard’s request for comment before publication.