Austin city manager delays June police academy class as audit into racist, discriminatory culture continues

City Manager Spencer Cronk decided to suspend the June cadet class on May 4. (Courtesy Austin Police Department)
City Manager Spencer Cronk decided to suspend the June cadet class on May 4. (Courtesy Austin Police Department)

City Manager Spencer Cronk decided to suspend the June cadet class on May 4. (Courtesy Austin Police Department)

The police cadet class scheduled for June was suspended by Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk on May 4. The decision comes as part of a monthslong effort to audit the Austin Police Department's training materials following claims of a racist, sexist and aggressive culture within the cadet academy.

"Racist language, slurs, intolerance, and derogatory behaviors—implicit or explicit—are completely unacceptable in our organization and it is my expectation that every person is treated with dignity and respect," Cronk said in a statement released May 4. "This audit provides an opportunity to reinforce that commitment and identify where we can improve to ensure that our officers are being trained to provide the policing our community expects and deserves."

Following a whistleblower's complaint late last year that alleged racist, sexist and homophobic behavior was common among the police department's highest ranks and testimony from former cadets who reported a "warrior" culture within the training academy, Austin City Council directed Cronk to investigate the claims and implement changes within the training academy. City Council said the June cadet class could only move forward if and when the changes were applied.

The results of the investigation into the alleged use of racist, sexist and homophobic slurs were released last month by third-party investigator Lisa Tatum, who said she could not corroborate the specific claims but came away certain that "racist and sexist name calling and use of derogatory terms associated with race and sex persists" in the department.

Per Cronk's decision to suspend the June cadet class, changes to the police department's training academy have yet to be adequately applied. Cronk said he expects the class to be ready to go by mid-July.

“While this delay is not optimal given the number of officer vacancies, it is necessary,” Cronk said in his statement. “I know our academy and community will be well served by taking the time to do the hard work called for in this audit.”

This is a developing story; check back for updates.
By Christopher Neely
Christopher Neely is Community Impact's Austin City Hall reporter. A New Jersey native, Christopher moved to Austin in 2016 following years of community reporting along the Jersey Shore. His bylines have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun, USA Today and several other local outlets along the east coast.


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