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Questioning How The City Spends

RECEIVED Mon., Aug. 26, 2013

Dear Editor,
    Regarding “Point Austin: Finding the Right Ratio,” [News, Aug. 23]: I take my kids to the local library and find out the library is closed on Fridays due to budget cuts. I take them to the neighborhood pool, and the pool is closed as well. Apparently the city can't afford to pay for the $7.50/hour, high school lifeguards. On many streets the potholes are winning the war against asphalt, and the bike lanes are always a mess. Yet the cost of almost all city services is going up, including, of course, property taxes. What gives? It's quite simple: The city spends a plurality of its revenue on police. We can't refer to them as doing nothing; last week an entire APD SWAT team descended upon a house in West Austin in order to arrest a 70-year-old man and a 60-year-old woman for smoking a joint. Why? A "concerned citizen" made a call about narcotics at the home. That's all it takes when you've got dozens of bored cops sitting around with nothing to do. Where on Earth did the myth start that there is any correlation between the number of police and crime rates, that more police means more crimes prevented? Crime rates have a lot more to do with the availability of living wage jobs and social services than they do with cops, and cops most certainly do not prevent crimes from happening. The only crime-prevention benefit of cops is having one living on your street. This is most certainly a crime deterrent for the immediate area. Unfortunately in Austin, we don't even get to enjoy that, as the majority of APD cops live in places like Leander and Kyle. They just come to town for a few hours a day to frequent the doughnut shops, and then head back out to their suburban homes for some rest and relaxation. Every so often, they shoot some unarmed black person. The result is that the cop gets to go on paid vacation for a few months while I get stuck paying for the ensuing multimillion dollar lawsuit. So, no, the city should not hire even one additional cop until the city services that residents depend on are fully restored.
Patrick Goetz
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