Data Shows Far Less Traffic Enforcement in Austin Than Other Texas Cities
The Austin Police Department makes fewer traffic stops than law enforcement in neighboring cities, according to data compiled by the San Antonio Express-News and Houston Chronicle.
APD conducted 72,054 traffic stops in 2020, an average of about 43 per officer, or about one stop per officer every 8–9 days.
That compares to 236 stops per officer in Bee Cave, 191 in Manor, 183 in Cedar Park, 165 in Kyle, 109 in Round Rock, 102 in Pflugerville, and 68 in San Marcos. Only Buda shows a roughly equivalent level of traffic enforcement to Austin, with 38 stops per officer in the year.
Compared to other large Texas cities, Austin’s traffic enforcement is tougher than some and laxer than others. San Antonio Police conducted 138,180 stops in 2020-nearly double Austin’s total-using 2,431 officers, equivalent to 57 stops per officer.
Likewise, the El Paso Police Department conducted 107,362 stops, nearly double Austin’s total, despite the city having a smaller population and a smaller police force.
Dallas Police conducted 33% more stops than Austin Police, but they have a force nearly twice the size, which means their rate per officer was lower (29). Houston police made relatively few stops per officer (41), nearly matching the Austin rate (42).
A number of factors are driving a drop-off in traffic enforcement in Austin, including lower staffing at APD, a shift in resources toward violent crime rather than minor infractions, precautions taken to reduce the spread of COVID-19, and other policy changes.
In years past, APD was accused of racial disparities in traffic enforcement, which brought it under scrutiny from the Office of Police Oversight, and elicited pledges from departmental leadership to address the disparity.