AUSTIN, Texas - It's no secret that the Austin Police Department is short officers.
"The police department has 130 vacancies, at least six more expected in May, and that's on top of the 150 police positions that were cut by city council," said Cary Roberts, executive director of the Greater Austin Crime Commission.
"Our last cadet class graduated in October 2020 and there were 42 cadets that graduated from that class," said Robert’s.
On Thursday, council will take up a vote, on possibly restarting the cadet classes on June 7. This is being considered after Roberts said APD has changed many of its policies, which were outlined in a council work session presentation Tuesday.
"The Austin Police Department has completely overhauled recruiting and training in response to community concerns and council direction. It was important that we took a long and thorough look at how we train police officers in Austin," said Roberts.
Roberts said use of force and de-escalation has been examined at the department. The GACC feels confident about restarting classes. Mayor Pro-Tem Natasha Harper-Madison called for the end to the classes last summer.
"I do think to some degree they're right, we have to start at some time, I just don't know that now is the time," said Harper-Madison.
She is not sure yet how she will vote on item 10. "I’m eternally grateful for all the participants in this process. I don't want my uncertainty to diminish the relevance of their contribution. But I remain uncertain," she said.
She believes the 144th cadet class, if it proceeds, will be a case study, and she believes those in the class should be informed of that. "This cadet class will be a significant part of Austin history and the roots of what reimagining public safety looks like in Central Texas," she said.
Council will take up the vote on Thursday, May 6.