A pair of billboards along Interstate 35 near Austin, Texas, warn incoming drivers to take the necessary precautions after the city council voted to cut funding to the Austin police budget last month.
The billboards, put up by the Texas Municipal Police Association, state, "Warning!!! Austin defunded police. Enter at your own risk" and "Limited support next 20 miles," KXAN-TV reported.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, the police group said the billboards are simply intended to raise public awareness about the Austin City Council's decision to defund police, which they call a "reckless act" and a "political stunt" that will do "nothing but endanger the people of Austin."
"As the largest police association in Texas, it is our duty and responsibility to stand up for the brave men and woman of the APD, as well as the other law enforcement agencies with jurisdiction within the city limits which will have less of APDs resources to depend on, and to raise public awareness of the dangers of defunding not just Austin, but any city across the U.S.," the group added in the post.
The billboards received praise from several Republican state leaders such as Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who also called the city's decision to defund police a "dangerous" one that "purposefully made our capital city less safe."
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) also tweeted out news with the hashtag #TexasBacksTheBlue.
Billboard on I-35 warns 'Enter at your own risk!' after Austin votes to defund police. #TexasBacksTheBlue https://t.co/4RFhUfap10— Greg Abbott (@Greg Abbott)1599684391.0
Last month, the Austin City Council unanimously voted to cut its police department budget by $150 million, reallocating funds to various social programs aimed at violence prevention, food access, and abortion access.
"This budget responds to concerns expressed all over the community and embodies our values as a city. New investment is focused on the underlying causes of crime," Austin Mayor Steve Adler wrote on Twitter last month, defending the city's moves.
The decision came even as violent crime is on the rise in Austin. According to a Wall Street Journal report, the Democrat-run Texas city led the nation in percentage increase in total homicides compared to last year, surpassing cities like Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles.
In a conversation with KXAN, Kevin Lawrence, executive director of TMPA, said, "The safety of Austin citizens and visitors has never been more at risk from dangerous policies propagated by their own locally elected officials."
He added that his organization backs supports Gov. Abbott's consideration of legislation that would place the Austin Police Department under state control.
Abbott has also weighed freezing any city's ability to increase property taxes as a way to punish its decision to defund police.
Texas groups rally against defunding the police www.youtube.com