KVUE — Nearly 100 people who work in Austin's entertainment district gathered at Brazos Hall for a town hall meeting with Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo Tuesday night.
"I don't want any part of creating a perception that downtown is out of control, because quite frankly, it isn't," Acevedo said at the beginning of the meeting. But the reason for the meeting was to talk about safety concerns. Video of a brawl between a group of men and two others that happened January 26 went viral. The fight happened downtown, just a few blocks from police headquarters.
Now officers want to know what the people in the trenches see.
"We have to pay meters every three hours," said a woman who works at Empire Control Room. "So that takes us where we have to leave work, and I've been in alleyways by myself before, paying my meter or you know, near an alleyway where I've almost been mugged mid-shift."
"When they try to release people too quickly from downtown, there are people that should remain downtown, that are intoxicated and should not be getting into their vehicles," said a pedi-cab driver.
Acevedo, who patrols on the weekend, said he understands their concerns and believes they make valid points that the city should look into. "We're creating a situation where, so when people would want to take a taxi, would want to take some of our late buses that actually do exist along Congress, but if I leave my car, it gets towed," said Acevedo.
Other concerns expressed included clusters of police officers staying in one area, areas of East Austin that aren't patrolled, and dealing with the homeless. And there's one main consensus shared by the workers and officers: the need for an increased police presence during the peak hours of midnight to 3 am.
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