Austin police are one of only seven police departments in the country to win a federal grant targeting chronic high crime neighborhoods and they’re using it to transform one North Austin community.
Over the next three years, the Austin Police Department will received $1 million which will allow them to step up patrols along Rundberg Lane in North Central Austin. The area has a troublesome reputation within the department, but now police have help from the U.S. Department of Justice to improve the area.
David did not want to disclose his last name to YNN, but he did want to discuss the type of things that he sees in his neighborhood.
"There's a lot of trouble with drugs and people running around -- that type of thing," David said. "The only people out at night are cops and thugs, and I don't wish to associate with neither of them."
But even though this grant will put more officers on patrol in the area, city leaders know that it takes a broader effort to actually address the social issues.
"One common denominator and that is the socioeconomics," Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said. "As you develop economic opportunity for the residents and you develop economic growth and redevelopment, it has a positive impact on overall crime."
Which is why Austin police will also work with the University of Texas’ Sociology Department and various community groups.
"Basically one of the reasons why people engage in crime is because of a breakdown in social controls,” David Kirk, associate professor at U.T., said. "Part of the challenge is thinking about the specific needs of the community, looking at the programs that have worked and seeing which ones would be best suited for Rundberg."
Over the next three years, approximately half of the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative grant will go to pay for extra police patrols in the Rundberg Lane area.
The rest of the money will go toward developing community strategies to reduce underlying problems like poverty, unemployment and drug abuse.