Gov. Greg Abbott and the state’s top leaders will join Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price at noon Tuesday to announce a proposal related to funding law enforcement.Select community members received a briefing Friday on recommendations designed to improve police relationships and responses in minority communities. BY FORT WORTH POLICE REFORM EXPERTS
A press conference is scheduled at the Bob Bolen Public Safety Complex. Joining Abbott and Price will be Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and members of Tarrant County’s Republican delegation, including state Sens. Jane Nelson of Flower Mound and Kelly Hancock of North Richland Hills, and state Reps. Charlie Geren of Fort Worth, Craig Goldman of Fort Worth, Stephanie Klick of Fort Worth and Giovanni Capriglione of Southlake.
While few details were provided, the announcement comes on the heels of voters renewing a half-cent sales tax for the next decade that will help fund equipment, vehicles and neighborhood patrol officers for the Fort Worth Police Department.
Known as the Crime Control and Prevention District, the tax has been devoted to police since 1995 and will provide the city with an additional $1 billion through 2030. Supporters of the tax, like Price, have said it helps reduce crime.
“Just the crime tax alone is enough to show you that the city of Fort Worth supports their police department, and I know our mayor and council do, and I know I do,” Geren said. “I wouldn’t be going to this tomorrow if it were not in support of the police.”
Manny Ramirez, president of the Fort Worth Police Officers Association, said he didn’t know the details of a proposal from the governor, but thought Fort Worth was a logical choice to discuss police funding.
“I think we’re in one of the best positions in the country as far as citizen support for funding the police,” Ramirez said.
Meanwhile, in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody in May, activists had urged voters to turn down the tax and instead called for the funds to be devoted toward other resources, like improving mental health services.
Amid a national conversation around police funding and police brutality, the city of Austin unanimously voted to cut roughly $150 million from the city’s police department last week — with about $20 million to be immediately removed, according to the Austin-American Statesman.
State leaders had decried the Austin City Council’s decision, with Abbott saying in a statement last week that the decision “paves the way for lawlessness” and would put police officers at greater risk.
“The legislature will take this issue up next session, but in the meantime, the Texas Department of Public Safety will stand in the gap to protect our capital city,” Abbott said.
Nelson, the Texas Senate’s chief budget writer and chair of the Senate Finance Committee, had also tweeted her opposition and vowed to “take action to ensure our next budget addresses this issue.”
The Texas Legislative Black Caucus unveiled the George Floyd Act last week, a sweeping bill aimed to curb police use of force and further criminal justice reforms in Texas by banning chokeholds, requiring officers to intervene when excessive force is used, and more.