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Crime and Public Safety


CACDC @crimeatx

@crimeatx is a crime watch Twitter feed that promotes crime prevention and public safety awareness in our area. It was established by the Central Austin CDC in January 2012 to help inform and prepare the community in the immediate aftermath of the New Year's Eve attacks and the murder of Esme Barrera. The feed is mirrored on the Facebook page CentralAustinCDC.

Esmeralda Barrera 1982-2012

Esme Barerra @crimeatx

Between Christmas Eve 2011 and the early hours of New Year's Day 2012, several young women in our community became victims of a sexual predator. A string of violent attacks in the Heritage and North University neighborhoods left one member of our community, Esme Barrera, dead in her own home. Read more...

These crimes occurred during the holiday break, a time of year when many of the University of Texas area's residents are out of town. The community was deeply shaken by news of the murder and attacks, and with the suspect thought still at large, it remained on edge through the month of January. As news spread, the half-empty campus neighborhoods soon realized that looking out for one another was more difficult. Neighbor-to-neighbor connections were broken by holiday travel. As UT students returned by the thousands, many learned for the first time that a serial predator had been operating freely in their area.

The community came together within hours after the murder. Volunteers, police officers, and friends of Esme and the other victims saturated Central Austin with thousands of flyers containing a composite sketch of the suspect. The flyers were placed on utility poles and store windows throughout the city and distributed to hundreds of nearby homes. In the days that followed, there were vigils and marches, some planned, some spontaneous, to grieve for the victims and to proclaim that these heinous acts would not be tolerated here. Two large community meetings were held at First English Lutheran Church on 30th Street with hundreds attending. Social and traditional media played a defining role in informing the public of the developments of the case on an hourly basis.

At a news conference on January 26th, James Loren Brown was first identified as the prime suspect in Esme Barrera's murder. It was determined that one of the wanted flyers had been affixed to the suspect's own door. Having nowhere to hide, the prime suspect James Loren Brown committed suicide in his apartment on January 5th. A copy of that flyer bearing his own image was found inside his apartment. APD Chief Art Acevedo said, "The pressure that community placed on that suspect was huge."

On December 20, 2012, the Austin Police Department officially closed the case on Esme Barrera's murder bringing closure to her friends, to her family and to her neighbors. Their findings confirmed that James Loren Brown was responsible for her killing. Brown lived less than 2 blocks away from the murder scene, in a second floor apartment overlooking a pedestrian crosswalk. Two of the victims would have used that crosswalk minutes before the attacks on their way home on the night of the killing. Forensic analysis on a bloody shoe print at the murder scene, and with the fact that the suspect was deceased, enabled the case to be formally closed. James Loren Brown was also connected by DNA to several other attacks in Central Austin, East Austin, and earlier attacks in the summer of 2011 in South Austin.

Communities that organize around a common purpose can achieve remarkable outcomes and become stronger in the process. That strength can be Esme Barrera's legacy. We hope it provides comfort to her friends, the families, and to the courageous young women who survived these senseless attacks. Collapse section...

Austin Police Department's Crime Search Utility

APD's CrimeWatch

Crime Search is a Silverlight-based web application for viewing crime reports. Searches can be narrowed to your geographic area, a radius around any address in the city, an offense type, or date range.


Central Austin CDC Graffiti Abatement Program

Our community is a very densely populated and vibrant urban area. It is home to thousands of students and workers affiliated with the University of Texas. In one survey, we measured graffiti density in commercial areas at over 26,000 tags per square mile. While often not victimizing the resident directly, graffiti is an inviting element and precursor for other crime. Graffiti sends a powerful signal to criminals of other offenses that this area does not care about its own, and is open for business.

CACDC is currently working with other agencies to reduce graffiti on a large scale by initiating and fostering an interagency approach for the prevention of graffiti through deterrence.

Impact on Student Population

Students belong to a protected class as defined in the City of Austin’s code of ordinances. The student population is particularly vulnerable to property and violent crime. Many lack an awareness of their neighbors and surroundings due to the transient nature of their tenancy, new independence, and their busy lifestyles. Graffiti erodes the security environment of this community. Our work seeks to build bridges between the students and the established residents. It has been our observation that the best way to do that is to get people working together.

Central Austin CDC Graffiti Evidence Registry

1508 Cases

July 13, 2012 Graffiti Survey   July 13, 2012 Graffiti Survey 349 cases
June 15, 2012 Graffiti Survey   June 15, 2012 Graffiti Survey 282 cases
May 25, 2012 Graffiti Survey   May 25, 2012 Graffiti Survey 502 cases
April 27, 2012 Graffiti Survey   April 27, 2012 Graffiti Survey 159 cases
March 12, 2012 Graffiti Survey   March 12, 2012 Graffiti Survey 47 cases
February 15, 2012 Graffiti Survey   February 15, 2012 Graffiti Survey 81 cases
February 8, 2012 Graffiti Survey   February 8, 2012 Graffiti Survey 91 cases

A 501c3 created to align public resources with citizen intent, the Central Austin CDC enhances the livability, safety, and diversity of our community by building bridges of communication and respect among people.

Become a part of our work today. Support the Central Austin CDC with a one-time or recurring tax deductible gift with PayPal.


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Map of Neighborhood Planning Areas

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CACDC @crimeatx

@crimeatx is a crime watch Twitter feed that promotes crime prevention and public safety awareness.

Central Austin CDC @cdcatx

@cdcatx promotes the work of the Central Austin CDC, informing the community of events of interest and public policy issues.

ph. 512.371.7961
P.O. Box 49168
Austin, Texas 78765