APD increases staffing, says violent crimes on the rise

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Following the attack in Dallas, where five police officers were shot dead,  APD Chief Art Acevedo warned Friday that violent crimes like rape, murder and robbery are up across the city. Since January, 1,834 attacks have been reported. That’s almost a 20 percent increase from the same time period last year. And the chief says we’ll likely see a surge in crimes this month and next.

According to APD crime reports, the areas with the biggest jump in violent crimes are Downtown Austin, East Austin and Northwest Austin, where police recorded a  41 percent increase.

We caught up with a retired city employee who was attacked last year in a string of armed robberies, to get his take on the increase. We first sat down with James Bushner last September, as he shared his incredible story of surviving a bullet to the face. Today, he’s moving at a slower pace, retired from Austin Water where he worked as an employee for 20 years. It’s where he worked when he went out to check a meter on Manor Road, and came face to face with a gun.

“He said, if you don’t give me your money and your wallet, I’m going to kill you,” Bushner recalls. He told the man he didn’t have any money on him. He doesn’t even carry a wallet. “He said it again and I said, ‘What did I say?’ … He jumped. ‘Pow!'”

Just above Bushner’s right cheek, rests a scar.

“Hit my glasses, my safety glasses – knocked them off. Hit me here,” he said, pointing to his face. It serves as a reminder, not filled with rage, but rather, forgiveness.

“I had to dig down in my soul to forgive that boy. I’m not going to lie to you. But I have to do that daily. Every day I get up, Lord help me to forgive that boy,” Bushner told KXAN.

As he thinks back to that early morning and hears violent crime rates are rising, he says with Austin’s growth come people of all kinds.

He says he can’t speak for them.

“They out there doing dumb stuff. You know, people are, you understand, and I don’t know why. I’m not going to try to justify it, you know what I’m saying. I just thank God that I made it through,” Bushner said.

He can only speak of his gratitude for something bigger than himself.

Friday, Acevedo announced APD will be moving to 100 percent staffing through August, on the heels of the Dallas attack, and ahead of the historically higher crime months. Acevedo says officer overtime will be funded through APD’s existing overtime budget.

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