AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Police department is welcoming a new recruit class to their force on Friday afternoon. The 65 officers are from two separate cadet classes.
The last time a new cadet class joined the force was in July. However, even with this latest class, the department is still understaffed. The department needs at least 100 officers, said Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday.
“We’re just very thankful that we have young men and women that will still step up and take the challenge and do what it takes to keep this community safe,” Casaday said. “We’ve struggled for the last two to three years with hiring people. And this is one step closer to getting to our goal of being fully staffed.”
Low numbers on the force have caused overtime to spike and response times to 911 calls to lag. The police union has rolled out several ways to bolster the department’s police numbers.
Casaday said vacant retirement spots should be filled right away. Between 25 and 35 city officers retire every year. More minorities and women could also fill up the ranks.
“We have about five women officers and that’s normal for our classes. We’d like to have more,” Casaday said, “This is typically a male-dominated field. But, we’re working on trying to getting our numbers of women officers up and minorities.”
The cadets spent 32 grueling weeks in the APD police academy. Their number is the result of two separate classes.
Casaday said it is a tough time to join the force; as, several high-profile police involved cases are in the national spotlight.
“They’re stepping off into policing during one of the most controversial times in the history of policing,” said Casaday.