'60 Minutes' preview on Austin's 'reimagined' police force shrugs off record homicides, police exodus

Fraternal Order of Police National VP: ‘Morale is in the tank’ after Austin rejected plan to hire more police officers

Joe Gamaldi explained hundreds of officers have resigned or stepped down as anti-police rhetoric and rampant crime cripples the Texas police department.

In a preview of a report promoting the city Austin’s move to “reimagine” policing, CBS’s “60 Minutes” omitted the city’s record surge in homicides and exodus of police officers since the police force was stripped of funds last year by Mayor Steve Adler and the city council.

The segment, set to air on Sunday night but promoted online over the weekend and titled “What does reimagining police look like?”, promotes Austin as “leading the nation in police reform” despite a record 82 homicides this year to date.

Interim police Chief Joseph Chacon speak about the changes during a news conference Wednesday (Austin Police Department)

In the segment, CBS News’ Scott Pelley interviews Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon and touts the city’s decision to add the option to dispatch mental health workers to some 911 calls and reports that only 1% of Austin’s 911 calls are related to violent crimes.

“Callers to 911 in Austin get four options for their emergency,” CBS reported. “The person answering will ask whether they need police, firefighters, EMS or a mental health worker. Offering those four choices when the police are called is at the core of a reimagining of police work taking place in the Texas capital that’s leading the nation in police reform. Amid calls for defunding law enforcement over deadly encounters between citizens and police, American cities are rethinking how to train and deploy their police forces.”

The Austin Police Department has a unit dedicated to helping the mental and emotional health of police officers.
(Hunter Davis)

Eighty-two people have been murdered in Austin in 2021, topping the previous record of 59, and the city and the police department face a “crisis level” police shortage which has caused long wait times for 911 callers.

That police shortage was significantly exacerbated by the city’s decision to cut up to $150 million from the police department in 2020.

In January 2021, PJ Media reported that 20 officers retired from APD and eight resigned, for a total of 28 departures. In February, five more officers resigned and six retired which totaled 11 more departures. In March, 24 more officers left and 20 of them left via retirement. Of the other four, three retired and one was terminated.

The staffing shortage in the police department has meant that officers are unable to respond to specific crimes and in one case last month, a business owner whose store had been burglarized was told to put on gloves and collect bullet casings for evidence because police would not be able to assist.

Some pro-law enforcement figures in Austin slammed the CBS report for omitting the rising crime in the city.

Changing Colors Along Colorado River Aerial Shot Flying over Zilker Park in Austin , Texas with the trail of lights display ready for Christmas. December brings changing of seasons and the dropping of leaves in Central Texas

“What a joke,” said Matt Mackowiak, the co-founder of Save Austin Now which was behind a failed ballot measure earlier this year that attempted to require staffing levels of the Austin Police Department that was cut last year. “Mandating CRT for $10,000 a day while cutting staffing to the lowest levels in 20 years. Did @ScottPelley interview any violent [email protected]?”

The city of Austin has spent millions of taxpayer dollars in 2021, some of it on no-bid contracts, pushing Critical Race Theory on new officers, according to a PJ Media report.

Jennifer Hackney-Szimanski, a police officer and Public Affairs Coordinator of Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT), posted on Twitter that she knows of individuals interviewed for the segment whose stories were omitted.

“I know many who were interviewed for this story but not mentioned by name nor was their side of the story mentioned,” Hackney-Szimanski said.

CBS News did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News Digital.

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