Austin City Council to vote Thursday on re-instating police academy

The Austin Police Department hasn't sworn in a new cadet class in more than a year. On Thursday, the Austin City Council will decide if the academy should be re-instated. 

Council will vote on Item 37, which would reinstate the city's police academy by June.

"It's crucial that we get this cadet class going, that we're able to fill some of these holes," said Cary Roberts, executive director of the Greater Austin Crime Commission. 

There are 95 vacancies within the police department as of Wednesday, according to APD. Roberts said new cadet classes will be able to help with staff shortages.

"We're losing officers at a rate that wasn't even projected a year and a half ago," said Roberts. 


Roberts added that we've fallen behind, but the council's actions tomorrow can be an important step in helping the city catch up.

"We're a fast-growing community. And so, calls for service and the workload for the police department, you know, increases with that population growth," he said, "So, you know, we've fallen behind and we hope to catch up and the council's actions tomorrow will be an important first step to doing that."  

RELATED: APD plans to move 95 officers from specialized units to patrol amid budget cuts

City Manager Spencer Cronk has laid out changes that must be made before the academy can start, including selecting training videos, working with community organizations, and developing a field training officer refresher course.

In a statement to FOX 7 Austin, Mayor Steve Adler said he will be voting in favor of the cadet class returning. The statement reads:

"Austin needs a new cadet class, and we also need that class to be one that meets the community’s objectives. I believe we can be at that place for a June 7 cadet class start by following, and tomorrow I will vote for, the city manager’s blueprint."


However, not all agree. In a statement, Jessica Johnson of the Texas Fair Defense Project said:

"The discussion of launching the 144th academy without a robust curriculum review process, without considering the recommendations of the Reimagine Public Safety Taskforce, and without independent evaluation embedded from start to finish of this pilot program is more than premature, it’s a message to the community that our input is nothing more than a formality."

Ken Casaday, president of the Austin Police Association said the new cadet class will bring more boots on the ground. "It will help and will provide more coverage and we'll be able to get to calls faster," he said. 

RELATED: Future cadets who moved for Austin police academy feel 'lied to'

Casaday also said there are some concerns as the chief and many others have not been included in the process. "We have concerns because we don't know exactly what they're going to be teaching out there right now," said Casaday. 

Casaday said if the council does not vote to approve, the next step would be to ask for help from the sheriff's department and the governor. "And that's embarrassing to us to even have to consider that, but you know what we're going to do, what it takes to keep the community safe and our officers safe."