Austinites may soon have the chance to participate in an in-depth training course covering the activities of the Austin Police Department following City Council action in March. The APD’s Community Police Academy—formerly the Citizen Police Academy—has offered Austinites an extensive inside look at officers’ daily work and police department operations since 1987. The free, multi-month training program includes weekly courses led by police representatives that focus on aspects of APD training, the department’s various specialized units, and police-community relationships.
Enrollment in the academy was halted in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but District 6 Council Member Mackenzie Kelly recently sponsored a resolution calling for city management to weigh restarting the academy this spring, with the possibility of offering college or certification credits for completion. Kelly’s proposal was approved 10-1 with District 9 Council Member Zo Qadri voting against.
District 5 Council Member Ryan Alter proposed changes to the academy’s accessibility, allowing for more diverse opinions regarding its curriculum and blocking political activities from becoming part of the program. A report back to council on the possibility of reopening the academy and those targeted items is due May 22.
Kelly, a graduate of the community academy, said she believes the program is an important resource for residents seeking to learn more about life within the APD. District 3 Council Member José Velásquez, also an academy alum, said he participated in the program at a time when he felt safe and encouraged to ask honest questions about policing throughout his training. Velásquez said that more recently, he received feedback about the program and police relations from some Austinites that should be taken into account in the next iteration of the program.