City leaders delve into number of SXSW safety resources

AUSTIN (KXAN) — City leaders are taking a second look at how our first responders handle South by Southwest.

At a Public Safety Commissioners meeting on Monday, officials discussed ways to make SXSW better for those who live in Austin year-round.

Public Safety Commissioners had several questions for Austin first responders, but one of their main concerns is whether Austin residents are spending too many taxpayer dollars while losing safety resources to during SXSW.

Commissioners have asked the leaders of the Austin Police Department, EMS and Austin Fire Department to each find out how many of their employees are pulled out of Austin neighborhoods to focus on downtown while SXSW is going on.

Their concern is that many neighborhoods are left unmanned and understaffed during the festival.

The Austin City Council has already asked those first responders to look at the deadly crash at SXSW and how that incident was handled.

On Monday, The Public Safety Commission had additional questions to add. They wanted to know exactly how much SXSW funding comes from taxpayers to pay for police overtime hours, as well as fire and EMS staffing. The commissioners want to explore ways that SXSW organizers can help pay those overtime hours instead of tax payers.

“It is safe to say we do reassign personnel from across the city to this event, thereby leaving fewer resources that would’ve been in other parts of the city,” said APD Assistant Chief Brian Manley.

An extensive report analyzing this year’s SXSW event should be complete by APD, AFD and EMS in July.

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