May 7, 2023 - News

Austin voters opt for more police oversight

Illustration of a police uniform standing with no person inside it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

With police labor negotiations in the balance, Austinites have signaled they want more civilian control of cops.

Driving the news: Austin voters overwhelming passed Proposition A, supported by criminal justice reformers, which aims to strengthen civilian oversight in the investigation of police misconduct cases.

  • Meanwhile, voters rejected Proposition B, supported by the police union, which would have limited the powers of the Office of Police Oversight and civilian Community Police Review Commission.

Yes, but: Amid the contentious politics of policing, it's not clear Prop A will ever get meaningfully enacted.

The intrigue: Texas lawmakers are considering banning civilian entities from investigating officer misconduct.

What they're saying: "My hope is that we can now get back to work negotiating a new four-year contract with the police association with the aim of bringing some stability to the seriously understaffed and overworked Austin Police Department," Austin Mayor Kirk Watson said in a statement.

By the numbers: Nearly 80% of voters supported Proposition A, according to unofficial voting numbers on Saturday night.

  • Proposition B was rejected by more than 80% of voters.

The big picture: The results reflect the yawning gap between law-and-order-minded conservatives and Austin's diehard voters — the ones who show up for an off-year, May election.

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