This document is the first of a series of racial equity recommendations published by the CPRC that address the intersectional and compounding factors that contribute to unconscious bias and racial inequity in policing.
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By the Community Police Review Commission: Amani Seay, Jessica Gonzales Bricker, Elizabeth
Castaneda, Joao Paulo Connolly, Tania Rosamond, Erica Flores, Ryan Carlino, Grayson Turner
and Sukyi McMahon
CPRC: RACIAL EQUITY
Table of Contents
Introduction ................................................................................................. 2
Recommendations for the cadet training academy. ........................................ 2
Recommendations on ethics and culture strategies. ....................................... 3
Recommendations on change management strategies. ................................... 4
Recommendations for new racial equity policies ............................................ 6
Recommendations on data, reporting systems, assessments ........................... 7
Conclusion ................................................................................................... 8
This call to action for racial equity policies and standards to be implemented within the Austin Police
Department (APD) addresses both the community and leadership level actions taken by the department that
perpetuate systemic racial discrimination and inequality. Institutional racism occurs when personal racism and
bias contribute and become integrated into organizational policy, systems, practices, and outcomes.
Previous investigations and reports indicate that the cultural and organizational problems within APD are
largely a top-down issue. In the past, Chiefs who attempted to enforce zero tolerance policies around
misconduct were ignored by officers and maligned by the Austin Police Association. Complaints have been
consistently swept under the rug and calls for reform have been met with resistance.
It is evident based on reporting over the past few years that the Austin Police Department is racist and in need
of immediate severe remedies and long-term strategies to correct and dismantle the institutionalized
ideologies that contribute to deadly outcomes for marginalized communities.
The following recommendations are the first of a series of racial equity recommendations published by the
CPRC that address the intersectional and compounding factors that contribute to unconscious bias and racial
inequity in policing. Racism within policing is a matter of life and death. Addressing both the unconscious and
conscious decisions that largely impact marginalized communities should be a top priority. The CPRC strongly
recommends that these policies be considered both in the immediate term and as long-term strategies to
correct the legacy of racist policing that continues to create disparate outcomes and deadly situations today.
Recommendations for the cadet training academy.
1. Incorporate adult learning pedagogy into curriculum.
o Adapt and develop training practices that teach a guardians not warriors’ methodology.1
o Include the comprehensive Racial History of Policing curriculum in the cadet training academy and adapt
it into required training for existing officers at all ranks annually.
o Provide professional specialized training and direction for training academy instructors to ensure that
Racial History of Policing curriculum is effective, interactive, and transformative.
o Remove the Danger Imperative narrative from training materials. 2
2. Build community accountability into processes and curriculum review.
1 As the Community Report | Austin City Council Resolution 66: Austin Police Department Training Video Review Panel emphasized,
the training materials presented during Training Academy focus more on what not to do as a police officer rather than demonstrate
and reinforce appropriate behaviors. Adult learning practices teach cadets critical thinking skills, effective communication, and
problem-solving skills. These skills prepare officers to approach situations with a level-headed, solution-oriented mindset rather
than a command and conquer mentality. https://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/investigative/2015/12/10/new-style-of-police-
2 Community Report | Austin City Council Resolution 66: Austin Police Department Training Video Review Panel
o Utilize community input and review to ensure parity, accountability, and transparency in community
priorities of equity and inclusion within curriculum. 3
o Publish and share annual audits of curriculum, instructors, effectiveness, and equity of each graduating
class with the City of Austin Office of Police Oversight and the CPRC.
Ensure training media and materials are consistent and congruent in prioritizing de-escalation
techniques to cadets.
3. Examine and develop hiring standards to combat racial or gender disparities in cadet classes.
Ensure safety precautions and procedures are administered equitably amongst class participants. 4
Develop diversity pipeline and invest in specialized training for active officers from marginalized
backgrounds to grow and develop leadership experience.
It is important to infuse academy training with the skills essential for officers to meet the contemporary
challenges of police work. The continuation of police academy classes without sufficient training puts more
residents at deadly risk by continuing the cycles of police mistreatment, discrimination, and faulty discretion
due to insufficient training and skills. Our investment in proper onboarding and training for incoming cadet
classes -- the future of the Austin Police Department is imperative to long-term change and ensuring that
officers start with a foundation of diversity, equity, and inclusion as they begin their service to the Austin
Recommendations for ethics and culture strategies.
1. End militaristic culture and practices including but not limited to:
o Reliance on strength and aggression in favor of de-escalation behaviors;
o Lack of responsibility to promote peaceful interactions;
Promotion of authoritarian security, conformity over individual autonomy;5
o Win-Lose Dynamic — the conflict-promoting processes that occur in situations in which competitive
reward structures cause participants to feel they can only succeed if others fail.
2. End culture of bullying, harassment, and intimidation.
o Train officers to identify bullying tactics and harassment which include:
Falsely accusing others of making mistakes;
Ignoring, dismissing, or not acknowledging the comments of a particular individual;
An individual is criticized constantly by boss or co-workers;
Different standards or policies are applied to an individual;
3 According to numerous reports commissioned by the city, APD has been trained as if officers are in a war zone and any civilian
could be an attacker. Changing the “us vs. them” mindset into a mindset of community service, with a guardian role as part of that
service, but to effectively include other service roles that police are called to fulfill, will only occur with significant change to the
curriculum. - CPRC Racial Equity and the Austin Police Department Research Report March 2021
4 According to a Kroll memo from February 2021, “interviews of Academy supervisors and instructors suggests the paramilitary
model continues to predominate.” (Kroll, Feb. 26, 2021, p. 5) Kroll further notes that APD leadership does not agree with key
assessments from other reports related to paramilitary academies. (p. 6)
5 Research from the National Institute of Health shows that officers perform best at their job when training consists of lectures,
classroom discussions, and practical application of knowledge in a simulated real-life environment. That is, an environment that
focuses on helping the public, de-escalating issues, and problems solving instead of an environment that focuses on unrealistic
danger imperative scenarios where officers are under attack.
An individual is gossiped about, and belittling comments made are made about them.
o Establish a zero-tolerance policy on retaliation for reporting misconduct.
Combat fear of demotion, harassment from other employees, or other forms of retaliation.
Clearly publish and establish procedures on a recurring basis to ensure secure confidential 3rd
party reports of misconduct to the Office of Police Oversight or other channels.
3. Secure buy-in and effect organizational change among officers to combat a culture of distrust,
recalcitrance, and dishonesty.
o Measure distrust of leadership through confidential pulse surveys.
Overcome distrust of leadership that extends to employees’ confidence in leaders to investigate and
discipline problematic behavior within the department.
Recommendations for change management strategies.
1. Create an internal culture that promotes interpersonal responsibility, accountability, and ethics.
o Prohibit affiliation, membership, and participation with hate groups as an active officer.
Adopt policies and corresponding discipline measures for officers and staff found associating
with, advocating for, and having membership in hate groups and paramilitary gangs recognized
by the Southern Poverty Law; the CPRC recommends a in 4-15 Days suspension in accordance
with the discipline matrix.
Conduct quarterly technology, department-issued communication devices, and staff social
media reviews against prohibited word list to screen for affiliation with hate groups and
promulgation of harassment or discriminatory content.6
Publish and share the Affiliation with Hate Groups report with the City of Austin, CPRC, and
public on a quarterly basis in conjunction with Racial Equity Plan updates.
Prohibit police officers from displaying hate symbols, including tattoos, flags, decals (e.g.,
stickers), patches, and clothing with hateful, discriminatory, antagonizing insignias, including but
not limited to Nazi symbols (e.g., swastikas), Confederate flags, and “Thin Blue Line” flags.
APD and the City of Austin should partner with and include community groups and members in
identifying hate groups and alarming officer behavior and in determining how to address these
2. Create a culture of high-quality customer service.
o Replace the department’s current apathetic police centered mindset with a “What does the community
need me to do?” mindset among leaders and officers. This includes rejecting the “us-versus-them” mentality
between officers and members of the public and ending the department’s militaristic approach to policing.
o Create promotion and reward incentives for officers who conduct that treats all civilians regardless of
socioeconomic status with a presumption of innocence.
4. Make holistic health and wellness a strategic priority.
o Improve on Peer Support program with department feedback to ensure proper resources, equity in
recommendations, and participation for officers.
o Administer training on Trauma and First Responders for all managers.
o Mental Health Training & Resources
6 Resource: All electronic communication sent and received (internally and externally) through the Department’s server are audited
using an established word list and sent to the City of Austin Equity Office. Staff analyzes every hit, and those determined to be
potentially biased are investigated. https://www.sanfranciscopolice.org/your-sfpd/published-reports/audits-electronic-
Establish an open dialogue with members of the department—a supervisor, human resources
specialist, psychologist, peer support member, or chaplain—family members will gain a greater
understanding of these reactions and know when normal coping crosses into an area of greater
Establish and institutionalize effective early warning and intervention protocols to identify and
treat at-risk officers, for example, by launching awareness campaigns on what to look for and
who to call when officers may be in a mental health crisis or suffering from clinical anxiety or
Audit existing psychological services and determine whether they are effective in identifying
early warning signs of mental wellness issues, including mental illness and suicidal behavior, and
in treating at-risk officers.7
Begin mental wellness training at the academy and continue the training throughout officers’
careers, with a particular emphasis on first-line supervisors.
Include family training to reinforce and invest in those critical family connections.
Establish clear post-event protocols to implement and follow when officers die by suicide.
5. Establish harassment prevention as both a long and short-term strategic priority.
o Enlist Employees in ensuring a harassment-free workplace. Conduct annual required bystander
o Adopting a Victim-Centered Approach
Develop performance measures and accountability standards that demonstrate the
department’s commitment to thorough, unbiased investigation of all sexual assault reports.
Recognize officers for displaying competencies in victim sensitivity investigations also
interactions with victims by supervisors and department leaders.
Monitor and evaluate officers based on their adherence to victim-centered policies and
The sexual assault policy should be reviewed and amended to clearly communicate leadership
messages and priorities about maintaining victim-centered, trauma-informed approaches, and
outline the roles and responsibilities of each member of the department in a sexual assault
o Domestic Violence Training & Resources
Develop a new policy to handle officer-involved domestic violence with termination discipline
after a second sustained allegation of domestic violence.
Conduct training to reduce inconsistent recognition of the range and scope of domestic
violence, including sexual assault and stalking.
Utilize procedure so that Austin Police Department Emergency Communications Division must
ask questions necessary to victim and officer safety.9
8 Memorandum of Understanding Between the U.S. Dept. of Justice and City of Missoula Regarding the Missoula Police Department’s
Response to Sexual Assault 8 (May 15, 2013). https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/crt/legacy/2013/05/15/ missoulapdsettle_5-
9 http://www.praxisinternational.org/files/praxis/files/Safety%20Audits/TTABestPracticeChecklist911Mar2012.pdf. The Blueprint for
Safety can be found at http://www.blueprintforsafety.org/.
Prepare Austin Police Department Emergency Communications Division and patrol officers to
recognize and respond to sexual assault in intimate partner relationships; sexual assault is
o Equity Training & Resources
Racial Equity & Inclusion Plan – Quarterly reports, press conference, community transparency.
Partnership with Equity office and Office of Police Oversight
Develop a method to provide racial equity training on an ongoing basis (a minimum of 40 hours
per year) for all staff, sworn and civilian, in the department, annually, during every year of
service, and incorporate this training by swapping out training that has led to harm in
Recruit and develop materials to promote a diversity of backgrounds and perspectives to
develop a deeper understanding a stronger relationship with the community.10
6. Recruit and retain leadership committed to values of Austin community.
o Willingness by leaders to engage the community and key stakeholders to critically examine the
coordinated community approach and practices.
o Recruit leaders who prioritize the mental wellness of their officers and who unequivocally endorse
physical and mental wellness parity as critical to a resilient and healthy police force. All levels of
leadership must recognize the parity of mental and physical safety and wellness.11
o Conduct executive leadership audit to ensure that leaders within the department are committed to
values of change for the benefit of the department, equity, trust in community. 12
Austin Police Department (APD) leadership must believe in the value of change and openly express a
commitment to better forms of policing. Change cannot start and end during cadet training. New officers must
encounter role models at every stage of their career at APD—from the instructors at training academy to their
fellow officers to members of executive leadership. While the CPRC endorses reforms to training and everyday
policing practices, we recognize that organizational change starts at the top. The CPRC calls on APD leadership
to make a commitment to effecting systemic change to its organizational culture.
Recommendations for new racial equity policies
1. Create policies to address and influence unconscious racial bias in policing.
o Investigate, identify, and correct adultification bias-- a form of racial prejudice where children of
marginalized groups are treated as being more mature than they are. Train leadership to identify and
discipline personnel that perpetuate and are less protective and more punitive with....
o Investigate, identify, and correct stereotypes that remove a presumption of innocence and create
disparate outcomes based on socioeconomic status, race, gender, and other characteristics.
10 Because of longstanding, systemic practices and policies within law enforcement agencies, it is unclear if a racially diverse police
force helps to improve community relationships. Many researchers look to police department culture as a bigger factor than overall
12 As the Community Report concludes, patterns in biases policing cannot be simply “trained away.” Systemic reform starts with
leadership who carry the duty to shift the department’s mentality and culture.
2. Create priority or policy to end investigative discretionary stops and officer-initiated calls except for
traffic violations that cause undue harm and burden on the city such as DWI, running a stop sign
o APD should discontinue the use of officer self-initiated calls to reduce institutionalized discrimination
and undue burden on city resources. 14
o Non-traffic self-initiated calls should also be eliminated, and that officer time allocated back to 911 call
response as needed, or eligible officers can be moved to criminal investigation units with more structure
for the pursuit of actionable information about crimes.
Recommendations on data, reporting systems, assessments.
1. The Austin Police Department (APD) publish an annual report providing detailed information on
recruitment, hiring, and retention to be presented to Austin City Council, the CPRC, and published on
the department’s website. This report should include, but is not limited to:
o Number of officers hired who exemplify the requirements set by the Austin community;
o Number of officers hired from other jurisdictions;
o Number of active officers at year end by race, gender, ethnicity, and rank;
o Number of active officers who participate in community engagement (e.g., bilingual, seeking/obtained
higher education, volunteer activities);
o Number of officers who resigned under threat of investigation; and
o Number of officers who retired.
2. Use assessment tools for effective recruitment, promotion, and cultural change.
o Adapt existing resources such as the 30-item Right-Wing Authoritarianism Scale (RWAS), in combination
with a 15-item short form of the measure to integrate into the APD hiring and promotion process to
screen candidates for levels of authoritarianism which can contribute to a culture of bullying. 15
o Use authoritarian assessment in combination with a measure of social dominance orientation (SDO; the
degree to which a person generally supports a system of group-based hierarchy), as strong predictors of
various forms of prejudice, ethnocentrism, and homophobia.
3. Conduct quarterly Racial Equity and Inclusion Plan updates
o Publish to the CPRC and hold public press conference on Racial equity recommendations
implementation, policies and strategies for community feedback and transparency.
o Publish and share new Affiliation with Hate Groups report with the City of Austin, CPRC and public on a
quarterly basis in conjunction with Racial Equity Plan updates.
o Conduct quarterly technology, communication services and staff social media reviews to screen for
affiliation with hate groups and promulgation of racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, content and
share with public.
13 People pulled over in discretionary stops are disproportionately Black and brown. In Fayetteville, North Carolina de-prioritization
of all violations other than speeding, DWI, running stop signs or lights, or other “unsafe movement” led to a 50% decline in the
number of Black drivers searched - one of our largest disparities in Austin. Use of force, injuries to civilians and officers, and
complaints against officers also decreased.
14 Criminal investigation as practiced by patrol officers in self-initiated calls appear from the available data to rarely result in a report,
let alone an arrest for a crime. These same self-initiated stops represent 35% of “call” volume, take longer than other kinds of calls,
and sometimes result in force incidents.
15 (Altemeyer, 1998). The scale measures a social attitude dimension that incorporates conventionalism, authoritarian aggression,
and authoritarian submission. There is also a 15-item short form of the measure available (Zakrisson, 2005).
o Recognize officers for displaying competencies in victim sensitivity, inclusion, and empathy.
o Share staff diversity makeup by rank, and specialization. As well as the strategies and timelines to
improve the diversity of the department.
4. Maintain thorough and accurate documentation of complaints, investigations, and findings. 16
o Minimize officers’ discretion in conducting investigations into complaints.
o ADP should incorporate meeting deadlines and compliance with paperwork requirements for Internal
Affairs (IA) and the Special investigations Unit (SIU) investigations into its annual reviews and discipline
5. APD should annually publish a report on IA and SIU investigations to be presented to Austin City
Council, the CPRC, and published on the department’s website. This report should include, but is not
o Number of investigations opened in the year by class;
o Number of investigations closed in the year by class;
o Average time to closure by class;
o Number of outstanding investigations at the end of the year by class; and Number of Attorney General
The Community Police Review Commission is committed to champion conduct, practices, and policies
centered in dignity and equity.
“Undoing systemic racism requires systemic changes. It requires a cultural shift towards community respect,
accountability, and trust. It requires showing trustworthiness before a crisis occurs, not in a slapdash effort
after the fact. It requires deep listening, authentic dialogue, and consultation with the communities most
directly impacted by police violence. It requires the courage and skill to hold difficult conversations
throughout the department and confront world views that perpetuate these biases rather than take a
colorblind approach.” - Community Report | Austin City Council Resolution 66: Austin Police Department
Training Video Review Panel
In conclusion, we ask that the Austin Police Department respond to the CPRC with next steps on these
recommendations by September 6th, 2021 and update the CPRC on implementation plans and timeline
starting January 2022 with recurring monthly updates.
16 The Tatum Report noted that investigators were unable to corroborate the allegations in the five complaints due to a lack of
proper documentation by APD. Investigators emphasized that officers’ discretion in conducting investigations into complaints as well
as keeping proper records perpetuates a culture of silence, inaction, and no accountability.