AUSTIN (KXAN) — A review of the Austin Police Department’s training curriculum recommended creating two advisory bodies to review it, including members of the community and professionals.
Additionally, the report said if APD wanted to continue its current process, “it should be re-formulated with a more defined scope and better protocols.”
“Whichever model is selected, we recommend that APD leadership also convene regular neighborhood strategic planning meetings within each APD sector,” Kroll Associates, Inc. wrote in its report.
Kroll Associates, Inc. is a consulting firm that focuses on risk management decisions, according to the report. Kroll helps clients make “decisions through a wide range of investigations, cyber security, due diligence and compliance, physical and operational security, and data and information management services,” the report states.
In a memorandum to the City of Austin mayor and city council, Interim Assistant City Manager Bruce Mills provided the completed review by Kroll Associates, Inc. — which pointed out a few things the Academy Curriculum Review Committee is not doing with the APD Training Academy.
The key findings in Kroll’s assessment of the curriculum review process found the ACRC “functioned for most of its existence without a clearly defined mission and scope, which hampered its effectiveness from the beginning,” according to the memorandum.
Additionally, there were no established meeting protocols to guide how recommendations and Academy responses were supposed to be documented, the report said.
“Committee members became frustrated with how little impact their work appeared to have on cadet training. That Committee members could not observe how the courses under review were taught further hampered the effectiveness of the process,” the report said.
Kroll’s assessment also found there was no defined process for the committee recommendations and actionable items.
The assessment said committee members did not always speak with one voice, and individual comments inserted into an assortment of documents proved to be confusing to academy staff.
“The Committee frequently directed its comments and criticisms towards wide-ranging policing issues that impact American society, rather than to specific and well-reasoned curriculum changes necessary for APD consumption,” the assessment said.
It added the ACRC was originally supposed to address how topics like “DEI principles, de-escalation, trauma-informed content and adult learning” could be incorporated throughout training. However, some of its focus went beyond that original charge, the report added.
“Ultimately, the process failed to establish true police-community collaboration,” the Kroll report said, adding “a lack of trust existed from the beginning that was never resolved.”
Kroll recommended two groups be established with specific focuses:
- Community Advisory Council: Includes “broad representation of community members” who meet each quarter with APD to discuss topics of interest. Its main focus would be “to ensure that cadet training includes a comprehensive understanding of the diverse communities within Austin, the expectations of officers when interacting with members of the community, and the type of police department the community wants and expects.”
- Professional Advisory Committee: Includes academic and “subject-matter experts” and cadet academy instructors who create at least two working groups per year to review the curriculum based on their expertise. They would “review and revise course content supported by evidence-based research and best practices, and recommend improvements to course instruction and delivery.”
If APD decided to keep the ACRC, Kroll recommended it improve its mission and process. Additionally, it recommended neighborhood strategic planning meetings and that instructors and supervisors “be retrained on the provisions and expectations of the revised Cadet Training Unit SOPs.”
To read the full report, see the document below:
Kroll has prepared other reports for APD, including looking at the department’s use of force, public interactions, recruitment, selection and promotions. It also provided recommendations for a “reimagined” cadet class curriculum and gave feedback on some of the changes APD made.