Austin, Texas – – Austin City Council is expected to vote next week to set up an independent forensic laboratory, separating it from the Austin Police Department.
The roughly $ 11.9 million to set up a new forensics department comes from the $ 150 million cut from the APD budget as part of the city’s fiscal 2020-2021 budget approved last year .
In August last year, officials said that nearly $ 80 million in certain APD functions and related funding would be removed from the APD during the fiscal year. These roles included forensics, call center communications / 911, strategic support, and internal affairs.
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Austin City Council cuts millions of dollars from the APD budget
The Austin City Council has unanimously decided to cut the Austin Police Department budget by millions of dollars.
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“This is an important step for survivors of violence and harm in our community and an important step for equal justice,” Councilor Greg Casar said in a press release. “It is in the best interests of justice when forensic evidence departments are led by scientists. We never want to fall behind on rape kits again. We never want cases mixed up in our labs again. We want justice and transparency for everyone.”
According to Casar’s office, the reconciliation will not override any of the functions in the forensic laboratory but will ensure that the laboratory is managed independently from the police department.
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According to the agenda for the city council meeting on February 4th, the city council will vote to pass an ordinance creating the department that will amend the APD’s operating budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year to transfer nearly 87 full-time positions to 11.9 million US dollars from the APD Decouple Fund, which was originally intended for the positions and funding of the Forensic Science Bureau.
The ordinance would also change the overall fund budget for fiscal 2020-21 to move these positions and funds to the forensics department.