Austin PD: Project to clean up Rundberg area showing progress

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.”

GOING IN-DEPTH // Rundberg Crime Trends

KXAN did some digging to see what crime trends look like at more than a dozen hotels and motels in the Rundberg area.

Turns out, it depends on the location.

  • At the Days Inn on East Anderson Lane, the number of reported crimes between 2008 and 2012 dropped by 65 percent.
  • But at the Howard Johnson Inn at 7800 North I-35, crime was up 256 percent.

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.

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