AUSTIN (KXAN) — Kroll Associates, the third-party group auditing the Austin Police Department’s practices and policies, submitted its final report to city council members this week.
Representatives with Kroll told members of Austin’s Public Safety Committee they observed “reluctance” on the part of some cadets and staff members to buy into the new, “reimagined” curriculum. Council put a halt on cadet classes in 2020 until the department could revamp its training curriculum to prioritize de-escalation and community relations. Kroll observers said it was a small portion of the officers and cadets.
Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison, who is the chair of the Public Safety Committee, said in Monday’s meeting she wants to see this addressed, especially with Kroll Associates no longer monitoring cadet classes.
“What’s most important at this stage is understanding that engrained biases is not always easy or comfortable to get past and we all have to do that difficult work,” Harper-Madison told us in an interview following the meeting.
City staff say the main takeaway is that “overall training was excellent but more improvement is needed.”
Harper-Madison echoed that in our interview, saying of the report, “one of the things I like to say is ‘it ain’t all good and it ain’t all bad.’ I think we’re well on our way.”
Austin Police Association (APA) President Ken Casaday says he doesn’t believe any of the staff’s frustrations have to do with an unwillingness to learn the material, but rather concerns about the level of focus on other topics.
“One of the complaints I hear on a daily basis from people who have graduated from the last academy is that we have all this training and multicultural issues but they feel like they’ve been failed on the basics of law enforcement and doing their job,” he said.
Kroll representatives are not monitoring the current cadet class and emphasized the need to “have a procedure in place to ensure [APD] is complying and continuing to implement effectively these recommendations,” a member said during the Public Safety Committee meeting.
The Academy is in the process of creating an “internal audit protocol” to do so, according to City staff. The academy commander or another designee will be in charge of the process and address progress and execution of the Kroll-oriented goals.
A city spokesperson also issued the following statement:
“The City is committed to the continued implementation of the City Manager’s blueprint for a Reimagined Police Cadet Academy. This includes needed reforms to APD’s curriculum, teaching methodologies, and the infusion of diversity, equity, and inclusion practices and principles throughout the training academy to ensure the highest degree of cultural competency, public interactions, and ethics for our police officers. We will continue to monitor progress towards these goals and share that progress with the community.”