Austin’s City Council Is At Odds With Its Own Police Force, and It’s Not Good – Especially Now (Guest: Michael Letts)
The law enforcement veteran explains why the City Council needs to accept responsibility and give its officers its due.
In the midst of a riot that broke out over the weekend, trouble seems to be brewing between the Austin City Council and its own police department.
Before the weekend, the Austin Police Department had turned in a proposal to the Council for a new four-year contract, one that would hire 400 new officers to the force, while also providing raises for current officers over the same time frame. Rather than giving them that contract, however, the Council overwhelmingly voted to give them a measly one-year extension.
As the weekend rolled around, several car clubs blocked off city streets for illegal street racing. Police officers attempted to break up the mayhem, leading to a riot that left one officer injured and several cars damaged. The Austin Police also posted a video of the incident on its Twitter account, noting that “Austin policy makers are directly responsible for the overall safety of their citizens and visitors. Looks like they failed to make the right decision and continue to defund, destroy and demoralize public safety. Austin was one of the safest cities, NOT anymore.”
In response, Austin Mayor Kirk Watson barely condemned the street racing event and instead called out the police union over “false comments” that “wrongly conflate this illegal incident with important community conversations about safety and oversight.”
So who’s right in this matter? And, more importantly, how can it be resolved to keep Austin safe? Here to discuss this further with us is Michael Letts, a law enforcement veteran with over 30 years of experience under his belt. Letts is president, founder and CEO for InVest USA, an organization that provides bulletproof vests to police officers through various charitable groups and sponsorships. His expertise will be welcome in this matter.
- Why do you think certain governments have turned so much on their police forces? Is it the whole “defund the police” campaign? A lack of funds? Perhaps a bit of both?
- Should the Council have given better consideration to the police with a lengthier contract instead of taking the “cheap way out,” as it were?
- Do you think the Austin police made the right decision in posting its opinion about the riot on social media? Or could there have been a better way to go about it?
- Do you also believe that Mayor Watson should’ve accepted responsibility and perhaps prompted the City Council to take another look at the contract? It doesn’t seem like anything’s been resolved after what happened over the weekend.
- Where will this go in the months ahead if the two sides don’t come to a favorable contract agreement? Could matters in Austin possibly get worse? Could crime increase?
- This seems to be the latest example of a major city descending into chaos because its local government can’t seem to come to an agreement with its police force. Do you believe this will prompt Congress to speed up the “fund the police” bill being worked on?
- You’re the creator of InVest USA, an organization that provides bulletproof vests to police officers through various charitable groups and sponsorships. Tell us more about that, and why support for fellow officers is so important right now.
- We understand that InVest USA is also actively involved with Twitter. Where can interested parties learn more?
Those interested in what I do on Twitter can do so on the official Invest USA account.
About Michael Letts:
Michael Letts is the Founder, President, and CEO of InVest USA, a national grassroots non-profit organization that is helping hundreds of communities provide thousands of bulletproof vests for their police forces through educational, public relations, sponsorship, and fundraising programs. He also has over 30 years of law enforcement experience under his belt, hence his pro-police stance for his brothers and sisters in blue. Those interested in learning more about Letts can visit his official website here.