Drag

Austin American-Statesman - - OBITUARIES -

How­ever, in the last year UT po­lice have worked with the Austin Po­lice De­part­ment more than ever, McNew said. The Drag is tech­ni­cally in the city of Austin de­part­ment’s ju­ris­dic­tion, but UT po­lice do cross those bound­aries, she said. What vic­tims need to re­al­ize, how­ever, is that crime on the Drag must be re­ported to Austin po­lice, she said.

McNew said she is en­cour­aged by the Austin City Coun­cil’s de­ci­sion in May to study how light­ing could be im­proved in West Cam­pus and that she hopes some­thing comes out of that.

SafeHorns also lob­bied for, and got, the city’s Home­less­ness Out­reach Street Team to re­spond to the Drag in ad­di­tion to down­town Austin. That pi­lot pro­gram cre­ated a team of po­lice of­fi­cers and pub­lic health of­fi­cials who ap­proach home­less peo­ple on the street and con­nect them with so­cial ser­vices.

How­ever, the fu­ture of that pro­gram — known as HOST — seemed un­cer­tain at Mon­day’s com­mis­sion meeting. The city’s pro­posed bud­get, re­leased last week, didn’t al­lo­cate any money for HOST. How­ever, As­sis­tant Po­lice Chief Troy Gay said that’s be­cause po­lice of­fi­cials are still work­ing out the de­tails of next year’s bud­get.

“If the fund­ing does not come forth, I be­lieve our de­part­ment is still com­mit­ted to the HOST team,” Gay said.

Stu­dent groups are also be­ing proac­tive about safety. The univer­sity or­ga­ni­za­tion SureWalk, which re­sponds to stu­dents’ re­quests to have some­one es­cort them to their des­ti­na­tion for safety rea­sons, re­cently got a do­na­tion of a few golf carts, McNew said. As a re­sult, vol­un­teers are able to take more peo­ple to their lo­ca­tions faster.

Com­mis­sioner Kim Rossmo said he had friends look­ing at col­leges who came to Austin to visit UT, took one look at the Drag and can­celed their tour. It’s likely that the Drag is af­fect­ing ad­mis­sions, he said.

Rossmo men­tioned that the Wash­ing­ton, D.C., busi­ness dis­trict found suc­cess in re­duc­ing crime when the dis­trict hired se­cu­rity guards. The guards wore yel­low uni­forms, served as a vis­i­ble de­ter­rent for crime and cost a frac­tion of what an off­duty po­lice of­fi­cer would cost, he said.

“Their only job was to be out on the street” and help peo­ple or call the po­lice if they saw a prob­lem, Rossmo said.

McNew said she was fa­mil­iar with that con­cept and that the Univer­sity of Southern Cal­i­for­nia im­ple­mented a sim­i­lar pro­gram af­ter a USC stu­dent was killed.

“We have told the Univer­sity of Texas about that,” McNew says. “We would love that. How we make that hap­pen, I don’t know.”

TAMIR KALIFA / AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN

A safety or­ga­ni­za­tion, SafeHorns, was founded last year af­ter a UT fresh­man was killed on cam­pus, and it has fo­cused on re­duc­ing crime on the stretch of Guadalupe Street known as the Drag.

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