The last scheduled class of forty-two police cadets graduated Friday.
They deserve the support of the community and its leaders.
How did one Austin City Council member thank them? By saying, “The academy we have is not training people consistent with the values of this community.” It’s a claim as alarming as it is wrong.
Although most of the curriculum is state-mandated, social justice groups suggest Austin police training is fundamentally flawed. Reports now available don’t support that allegation. Read them for yourself here and here. Both recommend improvements, but also acknowledge the strengths of the police training academy and staff.
Canceling cadet classes is a missed opportunity to improve policing and provide even more de-escalation and mental health response training. The cadet class that should’ve started this summer was one of the most diverse in police department history.
Despite rising crime and slower response times, these new police officers join a department whose budget and 150 positions have been cut. Is it any wonder more officers are resigning and retiring from the Austin Police Department than expected? The attrition rate doubled in the last fiscal year.
The Austin City Council has repeatedly made policy decisions without considering or knowing the consequences. Where are we on homelessness more than a year after making changes to public camping ordinances and a “historic investment” in the city budget? I think you know. The problem is only worse.
The community has had enough. Smart police reform is possible without putting businesses and neighborhoods at risk. It’s time to re-start cadet classes, restore police positions, and carefully consider any additional budget cuts.
Since city leaders won’t, please thank a police officer for risking their lives every day.
Go vote. Stay safe.
P.S. The Greater Austin Crime Commission was founded twenty-three years ago this month to support Central Texas first responders and promote public safety planning. Ask your family and friends to join the Neighborhood Network.