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Citizen told to gather his own evidence after burglary, cops blame COVID, not defund efforts, for shortage

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Police in Austin, Texas directed a business owner to slap on some gloves and gather evidence himself after his store’s window was shot out and his store burglarized.

Why? Because of Covid, of course.

Kirk Andrews, second-generation owner of Petticoat Fair Lingerie in North Austin told KVUE it took almost two weeks before the Austin Police Department (APD) took a report after a man came in the back door and allegedly grabbed a rack of clothing.

“I had a guy come in the back door, grab a rack of clothing and jump in a get-away car,” said Andrews.

But the police declined to send anyone out to investigate.


(Video Credit: KVUE)

After two burglaries, he installed cameras and soon after caught a man on video earlier this month on a Saturday around 6 a.m. driving up in a white car. He shot out one of the store’s front windows, grabbed a rack of lingerie, and took off.

Andrews dialed 911 around 9 a.m. once he was aware of the burglary. They redirected him to 311, a service that takes information, not police reports.

“I had no idea how this system worked, that 311 takes information,” Andrews said. “It’s not a police report, and they pass it on for a callback, so you can actually give a police report.”

“He basically said shoplifting; we don’t have the manpower to track him down,” explained Andrews.

“They got back on the phone with me and said that nobody would be coming out and said it was due to COVID restrictions, which didn’t make any sense to me,” Andrews recalled.

The 311 operator apparently told Andrews to put some gloves on and conduct his own search for evidence such as bullet casings to assist the police.

“That to me is extremely frustrating,” he said.

Andrews posted the surveillance videos on social media and, with the help of the community, was able to identify the man in the video.

“That’s the frustrating part of it and the fact that through social media, I had identified who the guy was prior to getting a callback from the police department,” said Andrews.

He said that the Austin Police are conducting an investigation.

“Everybody I’ve talked to and the department has been helpful,” Andrews explained.

While he waits for the investigation to wrap up, he will have the front window replaced and install more security.

The APD dispatch policy for sworn officers changed on Oct 1 to direct people to call 311 or use iReportAustin.com to report crimes after they occur or when there is no imminent danger and is in response to severe police shortages due to Covid policies and defund the police efforts in the city.


“APD will change call routing and response for non-emergency calls for service effective October 1, 2021,” the Texas capital city’s police department said in a statement to KXAN.

“So we are looking at response protocols that are directly related to the staffing to determine if there are opportunities to have either a civilian unit within the department go ahead and handle it, as opposed to sending a uniformed officer to the scene, depending on the criticality,” Interim APD Chief Joseph Chacon explained last month. “Please understand, if somebody is in danger, we’re still going to send a marked unit and a uniformed officer to go handle it. But for crimes that may have already happened and are now being reported, we are looking at alternative measures, and that’s what we’re working on now.”

Voters will be able to weigh in on the shortages in the November election when they vote on Prop A which, if approved, would reinstate funding and staffing that was lost in 2020.

“We are in the midst of the most profound police staffing crisis in Austin history,” co-founders of Save Austin Now, Matt Mackowiak and Cleo Petricek said in a statement to Fox News. “This is occurring during a historic violent crime wave here, as homicides are up 80% since last year’s modern-day record. Austin police morale is at an all-time low. We are roughly 300 police officers down in one year due to the $150 million police budget cut last year. ADP recently made the stunning announcement that due to the staffing crisis they can no longer respond to 911 calls unless it’s a life-threatening situation or the assailant is on the premises. Rank and file officers are being asked to put their lives on the line without the support they need to do the job. On Nov. 2nd, Austin must pass Prop A to fix this mess.”

 

Ashley Hill

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