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Adler, Pool voice support for cadet class this spring

Wednesday, December 9, 2020 by Jo Clifton

With Austin police officers either retiring or simply quitting the force in record numbers this year, Mayor Steve Adler told his colleagues at Tuesday’s City Council work session that he really wants to have a cadet class this spring. Council cut the Austin Police Department budget this fall and told department leaders they needed to make significant changes to cadet training after hearing from cadets who dropped out of the police academy complaining about racism, among other things.

Council will be considering an amendment to a contract with 21st Century Policing, LLC, for an extra six months and $180,000 to extend its consulting term. The company is assisting the city with a community task force on the process known as “reimagining public safety.”

Directing his comments in particular to City Manager Spencer Cronk, Adler said, “I, for one, would like to see us move forward with a greater sense of urgency than currently exists.” Adler noted what the police themselves have pointed out, that the first weeks, or even months, of cadet training is mandated by the state. The city is required to provide that training and after that, cadets learn whatever else the city wants them to know.

Council voted last December to direct Cronk to review and make changes to police training. Although that review was originally supposed to be done last summer, Council has yet to see it.

Council Member Leslie Pool said she completely agreed with Adler’s comments. “I had a conversation yesterday with the manager asking for a status update on the writing of the curriculum ….  It has been difficult to communicate effectively to our residents how much we support a positive view of our values and culture in our police department.”

While she noted that “every barrel can have a couple of bad apples in it, we do support good work and good officers and good officer behaviors.” Pool reiterated that she thought it was “imperative to move forward” with a new cadet class in early 2021.

Council Member Greg Casar, who has been one of the strongest proponents on Council of cutting police funding, wanted to put the brakes on the effort to speed up the restart of academy classes. He said he didn’t want the public to forget what they had heard from the former cadets.

Council cut about $20 million from the APD budget last summer, but left open the possibility of considerably deeper cuts. One big factor in those financial decisions is cadet classes and paying more officers.

Fox 7 Austin reported that as of Oct. 1, 35 officers had quit the force this year along with 77 officers who had turned in their retirement paperwork. Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday has directly blamed Council for the exodus.

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