Just before 10 a.m. Monday morning, a woman running on the hike-and-bike trail in East Austin was attacked by man who had been hiding in the bushes.
“She ended up fighting him off and getting away from him," Cpl. David Boyd with the Austin Police Department said.
Police were on scene within minutes, and with the help of witnesses arrested a 20-year-old Bobby Loftin.
Officers say attacks like this are rare.
"For the most part the hike and bike trail is pretty safe. We have our parks units that are always out here monitoring the hike and bike trail. The park rangers are out riding on the trails so everybody's pretty safe out here," Cpl. Boyd said.
While this incident happened in daylight hours, APD’s Chief Art Acevedo says it underscores the need for increased funding for his department during this budget cycle.
On Monday, Austin City Council voted to discontinue the overtime budgeted to patrol the trails after hours.
"You can't open the trails 24/7 and then say ‘By the way use it at your own risk,’” Acevedo said. “I don't think that's appropriate. We're not willing to take the risk."
Austin Council Member Bill Spelman says he thinks public safety budgets have grown out of control.
"Because of these 15 years of little steps in the same direction, we end up with two things, a lopsided general fund and a larger general fund that is taking up a larger chunk of people's income," Spelman said.
Spelman says the police department's budget has continued to rise while officers’ workloads have gone down.
The chief says overall calls have dropped, by design, but the most serious calls continue to increase.
"The hot shot, crime in progress, you need to get here now, we respond with lights and sirens because somebody is an eminent threat and danger or the priority one calls are up by nearly 17 percent," Acevedo said.
The police department is requesting close to 50 new officers for the coming fiscal year. Acevedo says if the trails remain open round-the-clock the department will have to juggle resource to keep patrolling them.
The council could vote to end the practice of leaving the hike-and bike trail open 24 hours each day later this month.
The city council will finalize the budget later this week.