Austin is ready to restart police cadet classes.
On March 25, the Austin City Council will consider a resolution that restarts the police training academy no later than June 7.
In response to community concerns and city council direction, the Austin Police Department has overhauled recruiting and training. Restarting cadet classes is the best opportunity to change police culture and lessen the staffing strain impacting patrol response and leading to cuts in specialized units.
With rising crime and slower response times, the police training academy must reopen. Last year, murder increased 42 percent, arson was up 31 percent, auto theft increased 31 percent, and aggravated assaults were up 22 percent. Response times were slower again, and traffic fatalities increased.
Strained police staffing jeopardizes public safety. In addition to the 150 police positions cut last year by the Austin City Council, the department will have more than a hundred vacancies by the end of March. Current vacancies represent 114,400 hours of annual lost patrol productivity. Resignations and retirements are outpacing projections.
Earlier this month, an independent consultant hired by the City of Austin presented the findings of a police training review to the city council. That report highlights the work by the Austin Police Department Training Academy and city staff to build a “transformational police academy” using adult learning methods and evidence-based strategies, including diverse community perspectives.