Austin’s Increasing Crime and Increasing Police Response Times

I was sitting in the doctor’s office yesterday. On the waiting room TV was the local Spectrum News talking about Austin’s uptick in violent crime.

  • Murder — same as last year
  • Rape – up 4.6%
  • Robbery – up 37.3%
  • Aggravated Assault – down 12%
  • Total violent crime – up 1.7%

They also went back 5 years and looked at the total violent crime index:

  • 2017 – 4414
  • 2016 – 4288
  • 2015 – 3536
  • 2014 – 3608
  • 2013 – 3135

That’s pretty much a steady increase in violent crime in Austin.

The TV was on in the background. I was sitting and checking email on my phone, and a notice from NextDoor came in, with someone posting this article on how over the last 7 years APD response calls are significantly slower:

The Austin Police Department is releasing new numbers comparing response times between 2011 and 2017. In 2017, response times for P0 and P1 priority calls are nearly a minute and a half slower.

For P2 priority calls, officers responded about four minutes behind times in 2011. As for P3 priority calls, or those that are the least urgent, police reached callers more than sixteen minutes later.

Michael R. Levy, Former Chair of the Austin Public Safety Commission says he’s been watching public safety in Austin since 1976 and it’s never been this bad.

When you need the police, it’s taking them even longer to get to you. A lot of bad stuff can happen in a minute and a half.

What made seeing these two reports at the same time interesting was this quote from Mayor Steve Adler:

But he says doesn’t believe Austin residents are at an increased danger. “I certainly don’t think the public should just be looking at response times because Austin as we know is one of the top 4 safest cities in the country when it concerns violent crime. Property crimes are at a 20 year low.”

Top 4 safest cities in the country when it comes to violent crime.

Mr. Mayor, did you not see your own police chief’s latest monthly report on violent crime? I guess not.

Take this data however you want, residents of Austin.

Me? I suspect it’s going to get worse. Austin’s population continues to grow rapidly. It’s a tough time to be a cop, and fewer people want to get into the profession. And you can also see from Mayor Adler’s comments that there’s a bunch of waffling regarding budget. Not a recipe for success.

Folks: Austin’s still a nice city. But the hard reality is, things are getting worse. And you just cannot count on the police to be there – immediately or in a reasonably timely manner – to protect you.

Updated: Paul Martin discusses this article and topic in episode 25 (Feb. 25, 2018) of The Situation:

Listen to the 911 operator, but blindly obey them? Well…

You call 911 for whatever reason, usually because something bad or dangerous is occurring.

What is the 911 operator going to do? They’re going to ask you a lot of questions. They have to ask questions because they aren’t there with you – they don’t know what’s going on and have to rely upon you to tell them. They are trying to assess the situation to determine who to send (police? fire? EMS?), and then to help relay as much information as possible to the responders so the responders can respond accordingly and know what they are about to walk in on.

This is quite reasonable.

However…

I am of the opinion that you do not and SHOULD not BLINDLY follow the directions of the 911 operator.

Should you listen to them? Yes.

Should you work to be as helpful as possible? Yes.

Should you risk your own personal safety? No!

Case in point (and what motivated me to write this).

Friends of mine woke up to a truck idling outside their house. The truck’s front bumper was pressed up against the tail their son’s car (parked on the street). Car running. Driver passed out.

911 operator told them to turn the car off.

Nope. Sorry.

That would require  me to approach the vehicle. That would require me to reach into the truck and/or open the door, and otherwise interact with someone that is demonstrably not within normal faculties.

Consider as well there have been numerous events where people have observed crime occurring, reported to 911, and the 911 operator tells the caller to follow the criminal! Often the caller proceeds to follow the criminal, risking their personal safety.

For example, Paul Saustrop was an Austin, Texas CHL holder who 911 dispatchers told to follow the attacker that had threatened him and his wife because there were no officers available four blocks from the police station. It resulted in a defensive shooting where the press crucified him for “chasing down the victim”. All kinds of errors there:  starting with listening to the dispatcher and following the threat. (h/t to John Kochan for jogging my memory on this event).

Why does this happen? One explanation is obedience to authority figures. See the Milgram Experiment.

Of course, it’s your choice to actually follow-through with any request from the operator because you are there and have better knowledge and context about what’s going on. Just remember, while the 911 operator may have requested it, if you feel it’s a risk to your personal safety, exercise judgment and politely refuse.

 

 

Life worth protecting? Get medical skills!

‘Blood was coming out of her mouth and down her shoulder. …

‘I grabbed her and she was a puppet. I was walking to her towards the door and got her through the foyer and she collapsed in her arms.

‘I put her down and blood was coming out of her mouth and I thought she would have choked. Her eyes were staring up and I lifted her up and her little arms were broken. She had shrapnel in both her legs, her shoulder and her face.

May 22, 2017. Manchester. Almost 2 dozen dead and 10x as many injured at the end of an Ariana Grande concert. Many were children.

‘She lost pints and pints of blood in the time I was there. ‘We made makeshift compressions to press on her wounds on her legs and shoulder. I was holding her up and talked to her, asking her name.

A sick, evil creature inflicted this.

‘We stopped the bleeding but I couldn’t move as she screamed if I did,’ she said.

‘It took so long for help to come. I was holding her all the time crying we need help we need help. Every time i moved a little bit she screamed she was in that much pain.

‘The armed police swarmed in and sit seemed to take forever to check the place. I was sat there so long and all I could see was the bodies and the blood. I saw a body in half, there was so much blood. Peoples clothes had been blown off them and people crying in agony.

(Full story. h/t Greg Ellifritz)

It’s maddening.

People go on and on about wanting to carry a gun to protect their lives. I totally get that.

But let me ask you this.

How many times in the past year have you needed a gun?

How many times in the past year have you needed medical skills? Even so little as having to clean a cut and put on a band-aid.

Which do you think is going to go further in terms of your ability to preserve your life and the lives of others? Carrying a gun? Or having medical skills? First-aid. Field trauma. You don’t have to be an EMT, but there are critical life-saving skills you can possess.

What drives me (and many of my colleagues) crazy? That people will plunk down hundreds or thousands of dollars for a weekend shooting class, but when presented with the ability to take a medical class, they go out of their way to make excuses to NOT take the class. I shit you not, I’ve seen it first-hand.

WTF?

My buddy Caleb Causey of Lone Star Medics is coming to KR Training June 3-4, 2017 to teach his Med-X EDC course. And you know what? Last I checked, the class is at risk of not making. Not enough students interested. Back in February when Caleb was down for his Dynamic First Aid class? Class was able to make because 4 of the students were my family members.

I’m appalled.

No, I’m not trying to advertise and drum up enrollment; I was pissed about this before the Manchester tragedy. It’s manifestation of the fact people do NOT put emphasis on medical training, when it’s pretty damn obvious such knowledge could do more to save lives than carrying a gun ever will.

Carrying a tourniquet and whatever other things you can? Is there any reason not to?

Next time I go into a concert venue, when questioned about why I’d bring a tourniquet into a concert my response is pretty much:

  • Ask Dimebag Darrell
  • Ask the Eagles of Death Metal and their fans at the Bataclan
  • Ask the people at the Pulse nightclub
  • And now, ask Ariana Grande

Folks, if you believe in carrying or owning a gun to protect your life, if you believe that life is that precious that it should be preserved “at all costs”, then damnit – get some medical training.