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Police Launch Restore Rundberg Program
Austin Police are fighting back: The department is receiving a $1 million federal grant for the “Restore Rundberg” program to fight crime in North Austin and will begin meeting with members of the community this month on how to tackle crime.
Police say the Rundberg area in North Austin, which includes 15 neighborhood associations, has five percent of the city’s population but 11 percent of its violent crime and seven percent of its property crime.
“They broke into my dad’s truck like two or three weeks ago,” said Brenda Rodriguez, who has lived in the area her whole life. “Drug dealers standing in the corners of the stores.”
Police have been trying to tackle crime in the area for years, with more patrol officers and Halo cameras, but say their efforts haven’t gone far enough.
"This is one of our most challenging neighborhoods," said Assistant Chief Brian Manley of APD. “We're close to a high speed roadway (Interstate 35) so it's easy for criminals to get into the neighborhood and get out of the neighborhood."
Asst. Chief Manley also said there’s a high incidence of narcotic sales, prostitution, robberies and burglaries.
Now they’re hoping a federal “innovation” grant will help the department tackle crime in a new way.
"The goal is not to come in and try programs that we've tried in the past," said Asst. Chief Manley.
More officers and undercover operations will be a part of it, but police also want to tackle the underlying issues.
"Re-entry programs, at risk youth," said Asst. Chief Manley. "It's become a neighborhood of disinvestment."
APD is using the grant money to partner with UT to go into the neighborhoods to figure out how to tackle crime beyond law enforcement.
"Based on all of that feedback we get, we're gonna tailor an approach to meet those needs," said Asst. Chief Manley.
He says that will include using grant money to team up with social agencies so crime doesn’t come back when the money leaves.
The first public meeting is scheduled for Dec. 18 at Lanier High School.
One neighborhood group leader we spoke with told us she thinks the area’s diversity of perspectives will be a major help to APD. Other residents told us they believe there’s sufficient enough policing, with others telling us the change should come from residents themselves.
By Adam Bennett