AUSTIN (KXAN) — A deadly shooting last Friday outside a North Austin motel happened in an area that is no stranger to crime.
The fight started at the Budget Lodge on Intestate 35 just south of Rundberg Lane. It ended with 27-year-old Jonathan Cook dead inside his car. The motel’s security guard, 43-year-old Robert Goins, is now in jail after being charged with murder.
But when crime in the Rundberg area makes headlines, Austin Police Officer Taber White says that is not the whole story. He is a district representative with the department.
“There are some positive things that have come about with this (initiative),” White said. He is talking about the Restore Rundberg Project, an initiative APD started about two years ago to help curb crime in the area. A big part of the project is putting officers on foot and out on the streets in the area.
“We’re able to one-on-one speak with them, get to know them, and in turn, they get to know us,” he said. “They get to feel a little more comfortable with us.”
The efforts seem to be resonating with people there.
“I feel like the influence of APD and the city is good,” said resident Broderick James. “It’s time we come together.”
James is known as the “running man,” and many people in the neighborhood know him and recognize him. He spends his days on the streets of the Rundberg area and says he is noticing a change.
“To me, Restore Rundberg is like a renaissance, like a rebirth,” he said. “We’re trying to bring this part of the city, this area, alive.”
White says APD pinpointed concentrated areas of the worst crimes, and it’s making a difference. “During the times our officers have been out here, in the different hotspots, there has been no violent crimes reported.”
It’s a work in progress, White says, but one APD will not leave undone.