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

Thursday, the Austin City Council voted to cut the police department budget by more than $100 million, with $49 million in possible future cuts.

$21 million of that will be immediately reinvested in EMS, domestic violence shelters and programs to address violence and homelessness. 

While over the next year, police services like internal affairs, forensics, and the 911 call center will be moved outside of APD. 


With Thursday's vote, the council eliminated 150 currently unfilled officer positions, canceled three upcoming cadet classes, and reduced officer overtime pay.

"I had a decent paying job and I spent my life savings to come here," said one of the future cadets that would've joined the 144th class in June. 

The Austin Police Association said that class would've been the department's most diverse. 

"The city is losing what we could’ve been and I think the city’s missing out because we have plenty to offer," the future cadet, who asked to remain anonymous, said. 

Months after receiving orders to report to Austin, the soon-to-be cadets learned their class and the following two cadet classes were canceled. 

"We’ve been left behind and we feel like we’ve been lied to. We will do anything to serve them, but we’ve been pushed aside and unfortunately, our voices can’t be heard," said the cadet hopeful. 

Dropping the cadet classes was part of Austin City Council's decision to make millions of dollars worth of cuts to the police department budget. 

Police Chief Brian Manley said he will move officers from specialized divisions in order to maintain the number of police on patrol and, therefore, response times, but officers said that will also have serious impacts on investigations.

"If you don't have enough personnel in patrol to get promoted to go into those units, you will not have enough detectives to properly investigate those crimes. Tell that to a family that's dealing with a child abuse case, or a child fatality case or a homicide. That's what they don't understand," said Commander Donald Baker, chair of the Austin Police Association Political Action Committee.  

The decision to cut the police budget follows months of protests over police brutality and racial injustice. Protesters called for the budget cuts so that money could be redirected to community services like mental health programs and addiction treatment. 

Charley Wilkison, Executive director of Texas' largest police union, CLEAT, said there are ways to make policing better, but cutting officers from an already understaffed department isn't one of them.  

"The same politicians who beat their chests and screamed about reform are going to be screaming about the fact that the murder rate is up and the police need to do something about it. It'll be very difficult to sit through that kind of hypocrisy," Wilkison said. 


"And activists still want their families protected. They still want their home to be safe. They still want to press the same three little digits and get someone that cares deeply and can probably almost solve any kind of problem," he added.  

Chief Manley said he has offered some future cadets, including the one already mentioned, a temporary unsworn position until classes start up again. 

With the number of officer retirements on track to surpass all previous years, they will be needed more than ever. They just hope they are still wanted. 

"My heart's still here, I still love the city, I still want to serve the people here," said the recruited cadet. 

Officers said they are also being actively recruited by other Texas cities, like Houston, which just approved adding 400 officers to their police department.