AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Police Department restarts its police academy Friday, the first new cadet class since the Austin City Council halted the academy last summer during the nationwide racial protests.

The training curriculum is revamped and focuses on de-escalation, volunteerism and community engagement. There are 90 cadets in this year’s academy with nearly 38% of them Hispanic and 16% Black. Women make up 18% of the cadet class, as well.

“We are really transitioning from this kind of military-styled Academy into one that’s employing adult learning concepts and active learning,” APD Interim Police Chief Joseph Chacon said. “We know from our experience and our folks in academia that it leads to a better experience for the cadet, and they’re going to take that knowledge and apply it in the field in a better way.”

Kroll Associates, an independent third-party consulting firm, will oversee the training program and its implementation. The firm has already given input on academy coursework while it was being put together. Two committees will also review every lesson and watch every video before it’s shown during classes.

Austin Police dealing with officer shortage, shuttering some departments

Even with the cadet class starting, APD says it’s still short officers and it’s had to make adjustments. APD suspended its motorcycle unit so it could put those officers on other patrol duties, and that’s part of 82 officers from 14 different APD departments that were moved to cover the staffing shortfall.

These cadets are set to graduate in February, and then after three months of field training, they’ll be ready to join the department as officers.

The last cadet graduation was in October 2020. Those officers started the 32-week police academy in March 2020 and were allowed to continue and graduate even as City Council voted to halt future academies.