The crime rate in Travis County, relating to violent crime and property crime, decreased by 7% from 2016 to 2017, surpassing the community goal of a 1% annual reduction in crime. From 2013 through 2017, the Travis County crime rate declined by 27%.
These statistics include incidents of murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, theft and auto theft reported by 16 local law enforcement agencies to the Texas Department of Public Safety.
A FOCUS ON EQUITY
While local data is not available, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that Blacks are more likely than other racial or ethnic categories to be victims of violent crimes.
From 2013 to 2017, all the largest urban counties in Texas saw a decline in the overall crime rates per 100,000 people. Travis County saw the greatest drop, with 27% fewer crimes reported. Bexar County consistently saw the highest overall crime rate and El Paso County saw the lowest crime rate among these six largest Texas urban counties.
The decrease in property crimes appears to have been driven by significant declines in larceny, or theft, and burglaries. Larceny accounts for the largest share of indexed property crime offenses reported. In Travis County, there were 5,452 burglaries, 29,253 larcenies, and 2,409 auto thefts reported by 15 law enforcement agencies in 2017.
Aggravated assaults account for the largest share of violent crime offenses reported. The chart at left shows the number of incidents reported for each type of violent crime for 2013 through 2017.
In 2017, there were 2,831 aggravated assaults reported in Travis County and 39 murders. One reason for the increase in the number of rapes reported in 2014 is a change in the FBI’s definition of rape, which broadened the definition slightly to exclude the word “forcible.”
Austin Justice Coalition is a grassroots organization addressing community needs, increasing political involvement, empowering communities, and criminal justice reform at the local level.
Grassroots Leadership works for a more just society where prison profiteering, mass incarceration, deportation & criminalization are things of the past.
Measure Austin is an organization whose mission is to use data and education to empower communities to eliminate social disparities.
Restore Rundberg is a neighborhood-led initiative that was originally launched with a $1 million Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative grant from the US Department of Justice. Even though the grant ended in 2016, neighbors continue to work with the Austin Police Department and other stakeholders to reduce crime and revitalize their neighborhood. A study released by the University of Texas RGK Center in December 2015 reported that the Rundberg area experienced declines in both violent crime (4.5%) and property crime (14%) when comparing data from April 2012—August 2013 to April 2014—August 2015.
The Austin Police Department has centralized its Burglary Unit to improve the number of cases solved and to successfully prosecute offenders who commit burglaries. The Travis County Sheriff’s Office has plans to also centralize its burglary investigations into a single unit.
Integral Care partners with law enforcement and other partners to provide several jail diversion programs and strategies. Crisis Intervention Teams are teams of Austin Police Department officers and Travis County Sheriff’s Deputies who have been specially trained to work with individuals experiencing mental illness. The Mobile Crisis Outreach Team (MCOT) helps to divert people experiencing a mental health crisis away from jail and toward a more appropriate setting.
Travis County offers a number of programs for people involved with the criminal justice system, that are aimed at helping them become successful after release and to reduce recidivism. Programs help ex-offenders find employment and address mental health and substance use issues. Travis County is also pursuing state funding to establish a Public Defenders Office to strengthen indigent defense. Austin is the largest U.S. city without such an office. The proposal would help to improve outcomes for people charged with crimes in Travis County who cannot afford an attorney.
Goodwill Central Texas was awarded a $4.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor in 2016 to improve employment and reduce recidivism among justice-involved young adults. The Goodwill LifeLaunch young adult reentry program will provide access to employment, training opportunities and support services for 575 young adults, between the ages of 18 to 24.