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Defunding police? Not in the Heart of Texas, but possibly in the Brazos Valley

Posted at 9:04 PM, Aug 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-18 22:57:53-04

There's a fight brewing in the Texas Capitol over money for police.

Austin city leaders want to take money away from their police department, but state leaders have threatened to retaliate if they do.

So how well do Central Texas and Brazos Valley police fare with ongoing budget talks?

The Waco City Council has a new budget under consideration, one that actually gives police more money, a lot more.

That's a good thing because Governor Abottt has threatened to freeze the property taxes of cities that cut funding to law enforcement.

As some big cities around the country look to cut police budgets in the wake of the George Floyd protests, Alisha Mueller shakes her head in disbelief.

The former Fort Hood soldier wonders who might come to the rescue in those cities when crime threatens.

"Somebody comes to rob your store, you know, you got to call the cops, I mean who you gonna call? I mean why not fund the people that put their lives on the line, and I don't think they get enough respect actually," she said.

Mueller takes her family's safety seriously. She wants police to keep the peace and doesn't mind paying a little extra for it.

In Central Texas and the Brazos Valley, we found most governments increasing their financial support for police.

McLennan County, for instance, upped Sheriff Parnell McNamara's budget, calling it money well spent.

”We're not extravagant by any means, and we've got a sheriff who's conservative as well,” explained McLennan County Judge Scott Felton.

McLennan taxpayers will add almost $400,000 to the sheriff's budget as a way to protect the county's rapid growth.

”We have a growing county. and with that you have to have a growing public safety piece of that as well. So we feel it's important to support that effort and keep it going,” Judge Felton added.

Waco Police fared very well in early budget talks, with plans to invest more than a million dollars to, among other things, restart a revamped community policing program.

Hewitt too upped it's proposed police budget by more than $150,000 dollars.

The proposed Bellmead budget doubles down on public safety with raises for police and firefighters to fight high turnover.

In the Brazos Valley, police funding got a mixed reaction. Brazos County didn't provide figures, and none could be found on the county website.

Elsewhere it was a tale of two cities, with Bryan Police getting an almost half-million dollar bump, while College Station cops will have to make due with more than a quarter million less than last year.

That's a tough sell to taxpayers like Alisha Mueller.

”I don't see the problem in giving them extra funding. I mean, the first domestic dispute that pops up, who do you need to call? You're not going to call your neighbor, say, "Hey you need help," you're going to call the police,” she said.

When it comes to Governor Abbott and his property tax threat, make no mistake, he means business. That will set up a fight in the Texas Legislature the likes of which we haven't seen in a long time.