AUSTIN (KXAN) — An outside firm found the Austin Police Department is making progress when it comes to training cadets but said much more needs to be done.

‘Reimagined’ APD curriculum

The Austin Public Safety Committee received an update Monday from Kroll Associates on its review of APD’s training guidelines, where representatives from Kroll said there was some “reluctance” on the part of some APD cadets and staff members with regards to its “reimagined” curriculum.

According to the report published Monday, Kroll found APD implemented community engagement programs, racial equity training and police history classes to its training program.

Kroll looked at the 144th Cadet Class which graduated 66 cadets on Jan. 28. One-hundred cadets started with the class on June 10, 2021.

The 144th was the first cadet class to move forward under APD’s new “reimagined” program that emphasizes de-escalation and community relations.

Kroll is no longer observing and monitoring the 145th cadet class, which began its training March 28. Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison says she wants this reluctance on behalf of some cadets and personnel to be addressed, especially with the lack of current observances and auditing.

But it also said a “military-style” culture predominates, and there was a lack of coordination and planning when it came to sequencing some of the courses.

Kroll representatives also notice an increase in diverse training staff members ahead of APD’s 144th cadet class, but a decline with the 145th.

Updates on license plate readers

Austin Police discussed four examples where license plate readers have been used in arrests. APD currently has the hardware needed for the technology, but it would cost $114,000 annually to operate.

Some council concerns raised included wanting to ensure there are measures in place so this technology doesn’t target communities based on their race or socio-economic statuses. APD staff said the technology only gathers objective information and the data is cleared after 365 days. Officials with APD added the data isn’t used for warrant roundups or collections of past-due fines.

APD’s conduct unit will be in place to audit and ensure officers know how to appropriately use the technolgy.

Citywide disaster preparedness

Mayor Pro Tem Alison Alter addressed some concerns she had about the city’s wildfire evacuation plan during Monday’s discussions.

“What keeps me up at night is that there’s this evacuation plan and nobody knows what to do,” she said.

Council addressed the possibility of training communitywide emergency response teams to help ensure community organizations are equipped and able to best respond across Austin’s geographic areas, if a disaster were to occur.