AUSTIN (KXAN) — On the back of every Austin Police cruiser is the web address: apdrecruiting.org.
But it seems even when the department gets recruits in the door, they have trouble sticking it out.
High Attrition Rate
APD cadets are ready for the task ahead: policing the city of Austin.
“You have to have the heart of a servant,” said Commander Mark Spangler with APD’s Recruiting and Training Division. “They need to be able to police the community in the way the community expects.”
But while APD is getting recruits to fill out the application, there’s been recent trouble keeping them around long-term.
“They are not physically ready, they are not mentally ready, they’re not completing the academics,” Spangler said.
“Either there’s a good hard economy where there’s many good job opportunities, but also, with the face of what’s going on in policing around the country, we find it more difficult,” said Austin Police Chief Brian Manley.
A study comparing turnover for police cadets in 11 states showed the average attrition rate was 13 percent. Spangler said 48 percent of APD’s most recent cadet class left or were screened out.
“We had almost 1,400 applicants, and as of today, we have about 90 left,” Spangler said.
The commander isn’t sure if this is a trend or just a hiccup in the latest class of recruits. The APD attrition rate usually hovers around 30 percent. He says he’s confident APD can stand behind its reputation and solid policing to get back on track.
We are one Austin, and we are absolutely safer when we are together,” said Manley.
Next cadet class begins in one month
APD’s 141st cadet class begins June 24. It’s a 32-week program with graduation scheduled for January 31, 2020. Spangler called it one of the lengthiest programs in the country.
This year, the 141st class will graduate with a modified class of men and women who are already licensed peace officers. They will be required to complete at 16-week course.
Searching for female officers
APD is also actively trying to recruit more women.
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KXAN profiled Lieutenant Katrina Pruitt and Officer Katrina Ratcliff in March. They are trying to get more women to join the force.
Ratliff is working to become a trainer. Pruitt has covered just about every area in the department. She became the first ever female to oversee APD’s SWAT team.
Citizen’s Police Academy
Thursday evening APD’s 98th and 99th Citizen Police Academy classes graduated and Manley was there to celebrate.
“I wouldn’t miss these events because these are men and women, community members, part of the Austin family that have dedicate their time to us and its right that we’re here to recognize that,” Manley said.
The Citizen Police Academy is a 14-week program designed to give community members a working knowledge of how the department operates. Each session consists of weekly classes taught by APD units.