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Austin's new interim police chief speaks against bill punishing cities that defund police

Joe Chacon spoke during a hearing on the matter Thursday night.

AUSTIN, Texas — In a hearing Thursday, Austin's newly named Interim Police Chief Joe Chacon testified against a bill that would punish cities that choose to defund their local police departments, according to a report from KVUE's news partners at the Austin American-Statesman.

"We need to be clear," Chacon said during the House's Committee on State Affairs. "Just because money was moved out of our budget does not mean that whatever that money was responsible for is no longer being done. It simply resides in another budget now."

This comes after the Austin City Council voted to reallocate $150 million from the police department into other programs. Since the decision, the move has drawn heated discussion from lawmakers and their constituents.

The bill under discussion is House Bill 1900. It seeks to discourage cities from making similar cuts.

According to the Statesman, Chacon said change is needed. He specifically noted a 2018 report finding that Austin police training practices seemed to promote physical aggression.

"Many of these bills propose to consider the action of delaying cadet classes as defunding despite the evidence that change was needed," Chacon said.

Also on Thursday, the city council voted to allow the Austin Police Department to restart its police academy in the near future.

Read the Statesman's full report here.