Voters in America’s 13th largest city signaled opposition to the defund the police movement by approving the continuation of a tax that provides funds to the city’s police department.
Just over 64 percent of voters in Fort Worth approved for 10 more years a half-cent sales tax that was set to expire on Sept. 30.
Money garnered through the tax goes to fund various law enforcement efforts, including crime prevention. The programs funded by the tax are referred to as the Fort Worth Crime Control and Prevention District.
The decision on whether or not to keep the tax was included in city elections this week.
Mayor Betsy Price, a Republican, said she was pleased with the vote, saying in a statement, “It demonstrates confidence in our City and Police Department.”
Price said she’s aware of concerns about how the district’s board of directors are governing and how the allocated funds are being spent. She plans to ask the city council to discuss governance structure and spending of the money in the coming weeks.
The district was established in 1995 to try to boost law enforcement efforts after high crime rates occurred in the late 1980s, according to the Forth Worth government. Voters approved to continue the tax four times before. The last vote was in 2014. The approval is usually for five years; this time, it was for a decade.
The crime prevention district “has played a part in making Fort Worth one of the nation’s safest large cities,” Price said in a statement earlier this year.
The per-capita incidence of major crimes has decreased 63 percent since the district was first created, Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus said in a presentation made to voters before the election, even as the population of the city keeps increasing.
The Fort Worth Police Officers Association, a police union, said that voters rejected the defund the police movement.
“Today, the citizens of Fort Worth, Texas have sent a loud and clear message to the nation; in Fort Worth, we support our police,” the group said in a statement.
No police department is perfect but the department is a model organization, according to the union.
Activist groups linked to the Black Lives Matter movement tried convincing voters to vote against continuing the district.
“Fort Worth spends nearly $1 million per day on policing. More money for police is not okay. Vote AGAINST Prop A!” Fort Worth Futures, one of the groups, said in one of a number of similar social media posts this month.
Organizer Pamela Young told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that the coalitions opposing the measure did end up winning, by educating voters about how the money from the tax is spent.
“Our eyes are open, and we can make sure that changes are made moving forward,” she said.
Each of the four previous continuation elections was approved by a majority of more than 75 percent of participating voters.
The vote was originally scheduled for May 2 but was pushed back to July 14 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.