"No cadets have been fired due to injury or illness but instead have resigned knowing they are eligible to attend the next scheduled academy class," said APD Assistant Chief Troy Gay.
"Just because someone gets COVID doesn't mean they should be fired or forced to resign, and I made it very clear my disappointment in that," said Ken Casaday, president of the Austin Police Association.
In total, the police department reported eight cadets resigned due to injury or illness, because of health protocols they would not report just how many were linked to getting COVID-19. This came at a time during the academy the department said was very hands on and missing those classes were crucial and could not be rescheduled.
"We want our officers to be the best trained for the city and we are not going to push out someone who is not prepared," said Gay.
The assistant chief said everyone was told at the beginning of the academy if they received an illness or injury, which would prevent him or her from continuing, they would have to resign or be terminated. The department however did make it clear the future with APD was not over for those eight.
"We are looking to retain those individuals in our police department. They are still going to have to start the academy, but I think it's a level of commitment that we owe to our employees to keep them employed as well as emphasize employee health and wellness," said Assistant Chief Gay.
Just what they will have these eight do is still up in the air, and depending how it turns out, Gay said this might change the way they handle situations like this with their academy. "Sometimes it takes situations like COVID to really dive in and do things differently."
If they still wish to become a police officer with the city, they do have the option to join the next academy. This academy is set to graduate in February; out of the 100 who started, 82 remain.
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