Following a year in which City Council and the community vowed to “reimagine public safety,” the Austin Police Department will remain a focus in 2021 as city leaders zero in on police training and recruitment practices.

In August, Austin City Council unanimously supported a $21.5 million cut to the police budget, vowed to separate certain police department programs, such as the forensics lab, 911 dispatch and internal affairs into independent departments—worth $79.6 million—and targeted another $49.2 million in police operations and expenses for a potential overhaul.

The 2021 police cadet classes were included in the cuts, with City Council telling the police department significant changes had to be made to its training program before another cadet class could begin. No cadet class has started training since February 2020; however, Austin Mayor Steve Adler said, with the police force dwindling from retirements and resignations, he wants to see a spring cadet class. In January, an independent audit of the police academy raised concerns over a “militarized” training mentality.

This story is part of Community Impact Newspaper's Annual Community Guide, which takes a look at the biggest development, education, health care, education, government and local business stories for the year ahead.