Neighbors worry booking center would bring more crime

AUSTIN (KXAN) — People living in North Austin are concerned a new booking center for criminals could lead to more crime in the area. The current booking center downtown is too small, the police chief says, and it’s taking officers too long to book the people they arrest.

Just a few miles down the road from where the proposed magistration center would be are neighborhoods where people are both for and against the new booking center.

“How do we go about keeping people safe if criminals potentially are released after being booked?” said Eddie Collins who has lived in his house for more than 20 years. “Where are they going to go?”

Collins is afraid crime will increase in his neighborhood and the property values will decrease.

“How do you make us feel comfortable that they’re being released in a responsible manner and not just being left on the streets in our neighborhood,” he added.

Just around the corner from where the new booking center would be is Hart Elementary School, and it’s another reason why some people say this might not be the best place for it. But a spokesperson for the Austin Police Department says there isn’t a problem with crime where the current facility is downtown and they don’t anticipate any problems.

The booking center would be in the same building as APD’s burglary unit and recruitment center and would mainly be for people who are charged with Class C misdemeanors.

“It’s a love/hate thing,” said James Longworth.”On the one hand it’s the presence of more cops. Up until about a year or two ago this wasn’t the best neighborhood at all.”

APD says the new facility would put more police officers in this area, which Collins agrees could be the one advantage.

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo will be at a meeting Thursday to answer questions from the neighborhood. That meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. in the cafeteria of Hart Elementary School and will be hosted by the Heritage Hills-Woodbridge Neighborhood Association.