Public Safety

Jon Shapley for KUTX

The City of Austin's special event office Wednesday night presented the results of a feedback survey on this year’s South by Southwest music festival.

Bill Manno, Corporate Special Events Program Manger for the City of Austin, hinted at possible changes they're discussing, but some meeting attendees say they still aren't sure of the point of the survey and felt it was vague and the questions were ambiguous.

“What are perceived as the problems that we’re addressing here?" asked Jimmy Stewart, owner of Do 512, an event listing and RSVP site in Austin. "That’s where I’m unclear. This questionnaire is passed, we went over the results, but what are the problems? What are the objectives?”

When Stewart asked that question to the panel, they didn’t have a specific answer.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

A Texas agriculture industry group is calling for more stringent reporting by people who possess the fertilizer ammonium nitrate. The Texas Ag Industries Association (TAIA) wants people with fewer than 10,000 pounds of the chemical to disclose to state officials how much they're storing and where.

Ashley Park for KUT

Nationwide, drunk driving is on the decline – but you wouldn't know it living in Austin. This spring, the city has seen several high-profile deaths attributable to drunk driving.

This weekend, Kelly Noel – a well-known music fan who ran the popular ATXHispsters Twitter account – was killed by a drunk driver downtown. (The account continues to auto-tweet the latest stories from Austin news outlets, including KUT.) And in March, Rashad Owens allegedly killed and injured South by Southwest attendees when he accelerated into SXSW crowds while trying to evade police.

The morning after the SXSW killings, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said “tragedy brings opportunity. It’s an opportunity for a gut check … it's a gut check for the people involved, it’s a gut check for this community.”


Ilana Panich-Linsman for KUT News

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport held a full-scale disaster response exercise on its airfield today, allowing first responders to practice their skills using an actual airplane.

The drill involved aircraft, firefighters, EMS responders, medical service vehicles and more. Several volunteers played the role of plane crash victims, complete with simulated injuries. Responders even tagged volunteers' bodies via a triage system, ranking them by the medical attention required.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Update: The final Sunday of ACL's second weekend has been canceled due to weather.

For more, including information on refunds see: Heavy Rains Soak Austin, Central Texas; ACL Festival Cancels Final Day  

Update (Oct. 11): Traffic could be a bigger problem in the Austin area for weekend two of the Austin City Limits Music Festival. Road closures around Zilker Park and Republic Square Park will be in place just like last weekend (see below). But the highways may also be packed.

Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

Wildfire season is in full swing. And due to Texas’ ongoing drought, the state remains at exceptional risk for wildfires.

Wildfires spring up quickly and spread unexpectedly – making real-time information important. Twitter is an important resource for wildfire updates. And Facebook is an information clearinghouse for area residents in times of disaster.

Google Maps

Austin Police are asking for help solving a case of kidnapping and sexual assault. A woman says she was abducted by two men in the 900 block of West 26th Street at about 2:00 a.m. Monday.

She says they blindfolded her and drove her away, releasing her about four hours later in the 2200 block of Stephen F. Austin Dr.

KUT News

Ramping up motorcycle safety is the goal of a measure that is heading for final passage in the Legislature.

Motorcycles designed to carry more than one person would be required to have foot pegs and handlebars for the passenger under Malorie’s Law, which is named after a 19-year-old woman from Sherman who died in a motorcycle crash in 2010.

Texas is one of only three states that does not require footrests for passengers on motorcycles, according to the American Motorcyclist Association. The other states are Mississippi and Missouri.

Austin Feldman for KUT News

The Austin Police Department is launching the first phase of a bike safety initiative today.

As Austin’s bicycling community grows – two percent of commuters are getting to work by bike – so does the need for increased education and awareness. Especially after a record year of traffic deaths.

Mose Buchele, KUT News

The University of Texas Police Department is undergoing a review of its services. Assessors with the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) are examining all UTPD operations to determine whether the department deserves accreditation.

Accreditation isn't mandatory but is seen as a representation of public safety excellence.

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Wednesday in a case testing whether police must get a warrant before forcing a drunken driving suspect to have his blood drawn.

Flickr user edolnx,

The City of Austin’s Public Safety Commission is recommending that the city auditor make a full examination of the Austin-Travis County EMS department.

Back in November, an audit found billing collection processes were so poor that EMS was at risk of having money stolen and not even realizing it. Issues this new audit would look at include inventive solutions to staffing levels, resources, overtime and more.

“There’s some complexities that I hope the city auditor can help us with,” Public Safety chair Michael Lauderdale says.

The approximate location of the situation in Wimberley. View Larger Map.

The high school in Wimberley was temporarily put on lockdown around noon today because a shooting near the school.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Austin police have released a list of the top 20 bars its DWI arrestees had their last drinks at before getting pulled over.

Here’s the list in question. The following are the top 20 bars associated with DWI arrests, from January through the end of October:

Austin Police Dept.; Motorcade photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

Brandon Daniel may be facing the death penalty for allegedly killing of Austin Police Officer Jaime Padron.

The Austin American-Statesman quotes District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg as saying seeking the death penalty for Daniel “is the right thing to do.”

Daniel was charged with capital murder in April of this year for the killing of Officer Padron at an area Wal-Mart.

Good morning. Austin can expect partly cloudy skies and a seasonably warm high in the 80s, according to the National Weather Service. Here’s some stories KUT News has been working on:

“The Austin Chamber of Commerce is calling Austin’s first Formula 1 race a ‘smashing’ success.

While the chamber acknowledges that there will be some lessons learned and that some businesses didn’t get the crowds they’d hoped for, officials say it all went pretty smoothly.”

For many Austinites, Formula One meant road closures, traffic jams and roaring choppers. But for some local nonprofits, it also meant an uptick in donations.

The Boys and Girls Club of the Austin Area and Austin Partners in Education each walked away with $26,000 in donations from F1 weekend, thanks to an agreement between Circuit of the Americas andHotels for Hope, a local hotel broker that raises money for charities.”

As the City of Austin gears up to host some extra 90,000 out of state fans during the Formula 1 Grand Prix, the Austin Police Department is preparing for another increase – a potential increase in human trafficking cases.

Police say trafficking cases rise with every big influx of visitors into a city. “When there's an increased demand for a product, there's going to be an increase in supply,” says Sergeant Keith Suitt with the Austin Police Department's Human Trafficking Unit. “And we expect that for a lot of events so we try to address that."

The City of Austin’s Public Safety Commission is scheduled to receive an update on local human trafficking cases at its meeting this afternoon. It’s a subject that’s very important to Luis CdeBaca, the U.S. Ambassador appointed to combat modern day slavery around the world.