Texas Governor Greg Abbott doubled down on his criticism of the Austin City Council's plan to defund the police department during a press conference Thursday, signing a pledge vowing to 'Back the Blue' in the state of Texas.
Abbott and several other Texas officials signed a pledge which read:
“I sign this Texas Backs the Blue Pledge to oppose any efforts to defund the police and to show my support for the brave law enforcement officers who risk their lives to protect and serve. Defunding our police departments would invite crime into our communities and put people in danger. That is why I pledge to support any measure that discourages or stops efforts to defund police departments in Texas.
Our law enforcement officers have our backs every single day, and we need to show them that Texans have their backs.
The demonstration comes one day after Dallas City Council members voted down an amendment that would have trimmed salaries from city employees instead of slashing police overtime budgets. Abbott called out the city during his press conference, saying the move could be "detrimental."
"It is unacceptable to see the chaos that has been stoked in these communities by the local government's efforts to defund and dismantle law enforcement," Abbott said.
The governor also called out the city of Austin for its proposed budget for the 2021 fiscal year. Under that plan, the city would slash about $150 million from the city's police budget and reallocated that money to other civil programs.
As part of his press conference, Abbott announced a new proposal to further cripple cities who choose to 'defund the police.'
Under Abbott's proposal, the state government could stop a city from annexing new land if it slashes police funding. In addition, areas that had previously been annexed into the city would be allowed to vote for removal.
Earlier this month, Abbott proposed freezing property tax income for cities that defund their police departments.
"Combined together, all these proposals will make it financially impossible to defund law enforcement," he said.
In Central Texas, several city governments plan to increase police budgets during the 2021 fiscal year.
In Waco, the police department's budget will increase by over $1 million next year to help fund a new community policing initiative, which would include seven new officers.
Bellmead proposed a $300,000 increase to help recruit and retain talented officers.
"If people don't feel comfortable," Bellmead City Manager Yousry Zakhary said. "Then the schools won't do well, the churches won't flourish. So, we start with good safety and move forward from there. And defunding does not help."
In Bell County, Temple announced plans to increase funding by $500,000, while Killeen PD will see its budget rise by around $4 million.
"You've gotta have frank, open and hard discussions, and those are very important, but they should never include providing fewer services to the citizens," Zakhary said.
So far, no Central Texas communities have announced plans to defund public safety departments.