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Austin voters reject ballot measure to hire more police officers

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Voters in Austin, Texas rejected a ballot measure that sought to hire more police officers in the city, a sign that residents are in favor of Austin’s restricted policing system.

Sixty-eight percent of the more than 155,000 voters who cast ballots on Tuesday opposed the measure, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

If approved, the measure would have directed the city to hire hundreds of additional police officers so there were enough on staff to have two individuals on patrol for every 1,000 residents, according to the Texas Tribune.

The proposition came amid a spike in homicides in Austin and a number of larger U.S. cities, the Tribune noted. Austin has seen 75 homicides so far this year, the highest number in two decades.

Proponents of the measure said it was needed to add more officers to the department to crack down on the rise in homicides, the Tribune noted.

Matt Mackowiak, the co-founder of Save Austin Now, the political action committee that backed the measure, wrote in a tweet Tuesday evening that the vote represented a “setback,” but said proponents “are not defeated.”

“We will triple our commitment to making Austin a great place to live, work & raise a family,” he wrote.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler (D), who was opposed to the proposition, said the measure sought to “adopt an antiquated police staffing model.”

“This election reaffirms our community’s belief that public safety for all requires a comprehensive system that includes properly staffing our police, but also our fire, EMS, and mental health responses as well,” he added.

The Austin Police Association also reacted to the proposition being defeated, thanking supporters of the measure and urging the mayor and city council to hire 300 additional officers.

Election Day on Tuesday saw a number of important measures be put to the test, with voters across the country weighing in on consequential potential legislation.

In Minneapolis, voters rejected a ballot measure that sought to overhaul the city’s police department.

Ballot Question 2 was voted down with 57 percent of the vote. It would have disbanded the city’s current police department by revising the Minneapolis charter to create a new Department of Public Safety.

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