The meeting will focus on and discuss various scenarios involving the police and will ask the community for feedback on those interactions. Saturday’s meeting is one of the latest virtual gatherings in a series of about a dozen conversations over the last four months.
“Certainly, there are lots of different viewpoints from people from lots of different places,” Mayor Steve Adler said. “I think everyone in our community has as a goal to keep Austin one of the safest places in the country and we need to maintain that, and we will maintain that.”
This is one of the many efforts city officials said they have taken to reimagine the police department. In December 2019, the City Council called for an audit of APD’s training academy after allegations of racism within the department surfaced following an anonymous complaint filed with Austin’s Office of Police Oversight.
This led to the cancelation of cadet classes through June 2021 and budget cuts.
At present, APD has 88 openings on top of the 150 open APD jobs the city cut.
Just this week, community representatives and a third-party investigator completed another review of 112 training videos. The panel found the videos “perpetuated dangerous racial and class stereotypes.” It recommends APD remove half of those videos from the curriculum.
Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said he and other department leaders are working to make changes within the department in hopes of accomplishing the goal of having a cadet class this March.
“We are doing everything that we can as a department to have a cadet class in the spring,” Manley said. “I do think there are some things that we need to ensure that we have addressed in advance of our next cadet class, I think a lot of that work has been done, and there is work that still needs to be done, but we have a committed group of instructors and supervisors that are working on that right now.”
Mayor Steve Adler says he too wants a spring cadet class to move forward but he said in order to do that they have to take into consideration the community’s needs.
City Manager Spencer Cronk is expected to provide a six-month progress update in March. Adler hopes to get that information before then.
“I have asked for us as a council to get that information sooner than later and if it’s available to get the information about what we’ve already been doing to improve classes soon enough for us to be able to at least have a conversation about whether we should have a spring cadet class,” he said.