Austin sees hundreds of sex offender cases removed from police officer supervision due to defunding

Austin sees hundreds of sex offender cases removed from police officer supervision due to defunding

Posted For: RecoveringSexAddict

By Andrew Mark Miller

Hundreds of convicted sex offenders are no longer being monitored by sworn police officers in Austin, Texas due to the city’s move to defund the police and cut police academy classes.

As of 2019, there were about 1,600 registered sex offenders in Austin according to the state’s sex offender database. There is no law preventing any of them from living near schools or other places where children tend to congregate, according to a local news report. About 650 of those cases were handled by officers who checked in on the registered sex offenders weekly to ensure they were where they reported themselves to be. But three of those officers were sent back to patrol as a result of the decision to defund the police, including slashing three cadet classes at the police academy, in August 2020. Defunding the police forced the department to cut the Sex Offender Apprehension and Registration Unit (SOAR).

Those cases once handled by sworn police officers are now being monitored by civilian employees, including two who only work part-time. The civilian monitors lack arrest authority and some question whether they are able to keep up with the increased caseload.

An Austin Police Department spokesperson confirmed to Fox News that three police officers who were tasked with monitoring sex offenders were assigned to patrol due to budget cuts and that civilians were assigned those cases.

“The lack of cadet classes at APD over the last couple of years has contributed to an officer staffing shortage,” APD told Fox News. “In order to prioritize the Department’s ability to respond to 911 phone calls and keep the community safe, APD has had to reallocate some personnel from our support units back to patrol. The Sex Offender Apprehension and Registration Unit (SOAR) is one of the units affected by these staffing challenges and lost 3 officers who were re-assigned to patrol in the process.  These officers’ duties and tasks while assigned to SOAR were to perform sex offender compliance checks, and to track down and arrest those with outstanding warrants. With the absence of these officers in the SOAR unit to assist with these tasks, the unit has limited capacity to perform these functions. There are currently 1 sergeant, 3 detectives, 1 full time civilian, and 2 part time civilians who now work in this unit.”

Mayor Steve Adler and Council Member Greg Casar, both Democrats, championed the vote to slash the police department’s funding in August 2020. Casar is now running for Congress.

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