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Austin Police Say They're Taking Rundberg-Area Crime Seriously
Some Austin cops are tackling crime in an unconventional way. Nine Austin police officers moved into a Motel 6 over the weekend. They're tackling trouble in the city's Rundberg neighborhood -- an area plagued with violent crime. It runs from about Floradale Drive to Braker Lane and from just west of Metric to the east near Dessau Road.
Part of the goal is increased visibility. Austin police officers positioned their mobile command center in the parking lot of the Motel 6 on the I-35 frontage Road. They want to make sure people know they're in the neighborhood. But the ultimate payoff is empowering the community to get involved and take control.
Richard Caterlackey has a tough time getting around. His neighborhood walks along Rundberg Lane have become tedious and troubling.
"Just going down the street there will be women propositioning me all the time. I get tired of that, or even guys looking at me like they're trying to sell me something," said Caterlackey.
Caterlackey's concerns aren't unique. The six-square miles that make up the Rundberg neighborhood are rough.
"There are cops here all the time," said Caterlackey.
According to the Austin Police Department, between 2007 and 2011, the Rundberg neighborhood reported 11 percent of the city's violent crime, 9 percent of its sex and weapons-related crimes and 7 percent of its property crime.
"I was like 'oh my God, what is going on around here? Am I in danger, am I safe or what?'" said visitor T.J. Sinegal.
With the help of APD and a $1 million federal grant, Rundberg residents are fighting back.
"The majority of arrests we made were for warrants," said Commander Mark Spangler.
Cops arrested 20 people over the weekend.
"I saw a couple cruisers out here. They were on it," said Sinegal.
Officers worked out of a Motel 6 room. The subjects were processed right outside in the parking lot.
"It's a win win for us because we don't have to waste time transporting," added Spangler.
Rundberg residents -- like Caterlackey -- call the outside operation -- a good first step.
"I'm happy about that. I wish they would clean that area up," added Caterlackey.
Spangler says the APD is working with the University of Texas Sociology Department to come up with innovative long-term solutions to tackling crime in neighborhoods like Rundberg.
Austin police plan to hold a similar sting in the Rundberg neighborhood in March. The overtime is paid through a federal grant and isn't costing taxpayers a dime.
By Alex Boyer