AUSTIN (KXAN) — With Austin Police Department’s 144th cadet class set to graduate this January, APD Chief Joseph Chacon outlined two potential plans for the upcoming year’s cadet academies to help accelerate department hires.

The 144th cadet class began June 7 with 100 cadets and, as of Oct. 27, included 75 remaining cadets. As for the attrition rate of 25%, Chacon attributed it to a variety of factors, including several cadets who were unable to continue due to COVID-19 diagnoses. Other losses are related to academic levels, injuries or some officers who resigned from the academy due to family matters or other personal issues.

For those impacted, Chacon said they’ve worked to retain them as APD employees and will incorporate them into the 145th class.

There are two options for cadet classes in 2022: the first includes three tentative classes, while the second would feature four.

Under the first scenario, APD would host two regular cadet classes, defined as a full 8.5 month program, and one modified class, which includes recruiting peace officers from other agencies to join APD, thus cutting the amount of training time required.

The second option would feature three regular academies along with one modified one. However, Chacon said this is the more challenging scenario due to the volume of resources, training officials and time allocated to the higher volume of academies.

This comes amid a higher attrition rate of officers leaving APD, either through retirement, resignation or other modes. APD has a gap of 191 true vacancies, with 1,618 officer positions filled out of 1,809 available.

Chacon said the traditional attrition rate translates to a loss of five to seven officers each month, mostly due to retirement. However, a major spike in retirements in 2020 led to more vacant positions, and the loss of cadet classes accelerated those openings.

He said it was “so critical and a high priority” to get classes going at a heightened volume to help alleviate some of the overtime and departmental stresses caused by the reduced number of officers.