AUSTIN (KXAN) — This week, Austin City Council will decide whether to move forward with reinstating Austin Police Department’s cadet academy.
In March, council voted to reinstate the academy by early June.
If passed, Thursday’s resolution to restart police training would also include a requirement that Kroll Associates, Inc., will observe and evaluate the department’s “Pilot Reimagined Police Cadet Training Academy.”
Kroll reviewed APD’s former academy and developed a list of recommendations and goals for the department to implement in training academies moving forward. On Tuesday afternoon, representatives from Kroll briefed Austin City Council on the progress APD has made on those goals.
A representative from the consulting firm told council members there’s no reason the city shouldn’t move forward with a new, June cadet class.
Of 23 requirements set for the new class, about half have been completed. Others, like final review of training videos and securing community leaders to teach cadet courses will be finished by the start of June, APD Chief Joseph Chacon told city leaders during Tuesday’s meeting.
“We have plans to have many of our courses be monitored by community members going throughout the academy,” Chacon said.
In addition to community review, Kroll Associates would also actively monitor the academy to make sure all new standards are being met.
The summer cadet academy would serve as a pilot for the reimagined training structure.
“It needs to be an opportunity to really fine tune it and make sure it is operating in a way that we really need it to,” said Austin City Council Member McKenzie Kelly during Tuesday’s briefing.
Cary Roberts, executive director of the Greater Austin Crime Commission, said since the start of this fiscal year, which was Oct. 1, APD has lost 130 officers due to retirements and resignations. Those are positions the department has been unable to fill with new officers.
“We’re behind, and we need to catch up, because right now, there’s often no units available to respond to less urgent calls,” Roberts said.
Roberts said he foresees even more of a strain on Austin Police once Austin’s public camping ban returns next week.
“Those are the sorts of calls that we have, with the limited patrol response, that it’s difficult to get to all of them,” he said.
The reimagined police academy would add eight additional weeks of training for cadets, making the full academy 34 weeks long. That means even if council does approve a start date of June 7 for the next cadet class, those new officers wouldn’t be finished with training and ready for patrol until early next year.
The Greater Austin Crime Commission expects to lose another 80 or so officers by then.