Austin police release arrest numbers for SXSW

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by KVUE

khou.com

Posted on March 18, 2014 at 8:34 AM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 18 at 8:34 AM

AUSTIN, Texas -- The Austin Police Department arrested dozens in the downtown area during the nine-day South By Southwest festival.

Police say they arrested 22 people for driving while intoxicated, 45 for public intoxication, 66 for theft and four for aggravated assault.

Officers worked overtime to try and make the festival as safe as possible, including arresting rapper Tyler the Creator for allegedly inciting a riot by telling people to push past security at the Scoot Inn.

Austin Public Safety Commissioner Michael R. Levy says the Austin Police Department is already understaffed and big festivals like SXSW strain resources.

"Downtown is dangerous, and it could be less so if we had enough officers," said Levy. "The last thing we want is to have enough officers at the expense of neighborhoods."

Levy says special events should pay more for police overtime, and the money should go back to the department instead of the city's general fund, "where it basically serves as a slush fund for the city," said Levy.

According to APD, the Austin City Council does not charge SXSW organizers for the first $340,000 in police overtime, but the festival has to pay anything beyond that.

Levy says when officers are working big events downtown, they are pulled from other neighborhoods, which slows response time.

A band called Driver Friendly had a trailer full of merchandise and musical instruments stolen from a South Austin apartment complex, and it took officers eight hours to respond.

"This is what we do to make a living, so when you take the equipment out of the equation, it makes it that much more difficult to make money on the road," said singer Tyler Welsch.

Krimelabb compiles data for Austin neighborhoods and can drill down into crime information. The searchable website can show where people purchased alcohol before a DWI arrest, where officers make the most arrests and the dates and times of incidents.

Krimelabb reports 20 percent of all DWI arrests in Austin happen between the hours of 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. when the bars close, and 40 percent of DWIs happen Saturdays and Sundays.

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