Dan Patrick Portrays Texas Safest Major City
as Violent Crime Capital of New Toss Up State
By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor
October 29, 2020
Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick conjured visions of the Nazi occupation of Paris during World War II when he revealed on Wednesday that he and other high-ranking Republicans have been holding behind-the-scenes discussions on the possibility of the state taking over the Texas Capital City.
After being relegated to irrelevance by Governor Greg Abbott throughout the coronavirus crisis, Patrick launched himself back into the spotlight at a press conference in Houston where he portrayed Austin as a city that's infested with violent crime that's scaring law-abiding citizens away.
"The city of Austin is a disaster, if you haven't been there, a great city now one of the most dangerous cities in America and definitely in Texas," Patrick declared without offering any evidence to substantiate the claim. "We have already been talking with the governor and I talked with others about taking over Austin, the state taking over policing in that city and if that is the plan that will be a high priority bill for the Senate to pass."
Patrick served up the threat of a state-imposed police state in the nation's 11th largest city in a pitch for legislation that would shut down the Austin Police Department and shift the responsibilities of law enforcement here to the Texas Department of Public Safety. The lieutenant governor vowed to make the proposed overthrow at APD one of the five most important issues that the Legislature will face when it convenes in January.
The main problem with Patrick's assessment on the nation's largest city is that it's a complete fabrication that flies in the face of data that shows Austin to actually be the safest major metro in Texas.
The timing of Patrick's so-called Back the Blue media event creates the distinct impression that it was motivated purely by desperation politics with the major national political experts shuffling Texas into the toss up category with Democrat Joe Biden running even here with President Donald Trump.
Patrick has been Trump's most high-profile and unwavering supporter in the Lone State State since the New York billionaire who calls Florida home now won the GOP nomination for the White House in 2016. Patrick failed to show up for work on the first day of the 2019 regular session after being summoned at the last minute to Washington to advise the Trump administration on border security.
Patrick had been uncharacteristically mum since the Trump campaign began to unravel during the summer when other top Texas Republicans like U.S. Senator John Cornyn began attempting to distance themselves as much as possible from the most radioactive president in American history. The lieutenant governor had been a recurring guest on Fox News during the first few months of the pandemic when Patrick declared that old people would be willing to die to give the economy a boost and contended that Anthony Fauci has been wrong on everything that he'd said about COVID-19.
Patrick trashed New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at one point amid the assertion that Texas had done a much better job of dealing with the health crisis than the Empire State based on the virus death count. The Texas statewide leader didn't mention this week, however, that Texas has passed California in the total number of coronavirus infections that have been recorded and reported by the New York Times and other major virus trackers.
Worse yet, the virus has been spreading in Texas in the past two weeks at the a rate that's double those in the two largest blue states. Texas ranks 27th in the nation in the number of new cases per capita in the past week compared to California and New York that are 44th and 48th respectively in that regard.
Patrick also declined to mention that Austin has been one of the safest places to be in the state throughout October with Travis County as one of only five major metros with the lowest rate of new covid cases this month.
But Austin is even safer on paper when it comes to the risk of danger. According to the Texas safest city rankings that the home security company Safewise compiled this summer, Austin has lower rate of violent crime than Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Fort Worth, Corpus Christi, Beaumont, Port Arthur, Odessa, Waco, Galveston, Abilene, Lubbock and Amarillo.
Patrick would be dismayed to learn that the violent crime rates in Lubbock and Beaumont have been almost three times as high as they've been in Austin. Safewise has Lubbock rated as one of the five most dangerous cities in the nation based on crimes of violence.
But the risk of danger in Lubbock is higher than ever with the virus more out of control there now than anywhere in Texas except El Paso. With El Paso as the lone exception, all of the major counties where the disease has been spreading at red alert levels around the state are heavily Republican locations in West Texas.
Beyond the erroneous statements on dangerous crime in Austin, Patrick's plan to propel a shuttering on the local police department to the center of the legislative plate in 2021 fails to take into the account that Democrats appear to be on track to seize the majority in the Texas House in the general election five days from now. The lieutenant governor appears to be undaunted by that growing possibility nonetheless.
"The budget is usually number one but that will be in the top 5 but we will pass that bill and if we have to protect the citizens of Austin from the bridge to beyond UT Campus where parents now are afraid to send their students because Mayor Adler has defunded the police and the city council has defunded the police endangering the police and all the citizens," Patrick added. "Then that's what we are going to do and the next session we know the budget will be tight but there always dollars to defend the police and the citizens lives that's our number one job."
Austin Mayor Steve Adler depicted Patrick's threats as desperation politics designed to scare Texas voters into backing Trump at the polls next week.
“We took about 4% out of our police budget and what we said was we’re not going to fire any officers, we’re not going to cut any officers’ pay, but we’re going to take some unfilled positions and we’re going to take that money and we’re going to take some of the people that are experiencing homelessness and in tents and on our corners, off our corners, and not in tents, we’re going to put them in housing, so that our police don’t have to spend time with them,” Adler said.