AUSTIN, Texas - The 147th Austin Police Department cadet class began training Monday morning. The 55 cadets will help alleviate the department’s staffing shortage.
Detective Joe Swann, treasurer of the Austin Police Association, said the department is authorized 1,812 positions. About 1,411 are currently filled, however, only 189 are considered vacant — the other openings are the result of leave.
The department has experienced a recent spike in resignations.
- 2010: 11
- 2011: 14
- 2012: 21
- 2013 :17
- 2014: 20
- 2015: 20
- 2016: 10
- 2017: 22
- 2018: 51
- 2019: 22
- 2020: 47
- 2021: 56
- 2022: 37
Lieutenant Elijah Myrick, who supervises cadet training, said the department is working to create a supportive environment.
"We want these folks to stay with us and as employees, and we'll do everything in our power, even if that's our instructors coming in on a weekend or after hours to accommodate the training for the cadets," he said.
Det. Swann said the city is working to fill 100 slots each cadet class.
"Historically, we've been able to count on the City of Austin to just produce enough applicants to keep our ranks full. But that, of course, has not been the case lately," explained Lieutenant Jay Swann, who supervises recruiting for the department.
Lt. Swann said the department has cast a wider net while searching for experienced candidates.
"We're looking at a wide variety of incentives to encourage people to come and apply our recruiting efforts right now are nationwide. For example, I had five recruiters and a supervisor in New York City over the weekend where we recruited and tested a great number of applicants," he said.
Cadets in the 148th class, which is set to start at the end of January 2023, will be subject to fewer restrictions. Lt. Swann has spent the last 15 months working to change requirements.
Previously, the department required recruits be cannabis free for two years prior to applying. They are scaling that number back to six months as drug laws change throughout the United States.
"[Six months] would give someone enough time to show that they don't have any dependence on cannabis. And then by the time they finish the six month recruiting cycle, that would give them about a year without any cannabis use to ensure that there's not an issue there," said Lt. Swann.
The department will also be more lenient when it comes to applicants' financial history.
"I couldn't find anything that would say that someone with a poor credit history was any at any higher risk as a police officer than someone who did not," Lt. Swann explained.