Austin Public Safety Commission wants cadet classes suspended until department’s culture is examined 

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The Austin Public Safety Commission wants new cadet classes at the Austin police academy suspended until an investigation is complete into the alleged racist remarks of the city’s former assistant police chief, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

The commission on Monday asked the Austin City Council to suspend classes scheduled next summer so that the culture of the Austin Police Department can be thoroughly examined before new officers are added to the ranks. The council will vote Thursday on an ordinance to stop cadet classes beginning in June next year and begin an investigation into the APD culture, the newspaper reported.

Assistant Police Chief Justin Newsom was accused of using racist language to refer to President Obama, council member Ora Houston and people in the police department. He retired shortly after the anonymous complaints were made public. 

City Manager Spencer Cronk has started an investigation into the complaints, but members of the commission questioned on Monday whether that examination would be truly independent, the Statesman reported.

Commissioner Meghan Hollis equated the Cronk investigation with putting a Band-Aid on a bullet wound, the newspaper reported.

Commission Chair Ed Scruggs said in a statement Monday that there are reports the city investigation could take 10 months, which he said is too long for the community to wait. He said monthly updates should be given.

“A highly transparent process promoting sustained engagement of all stakeholders is the only way to protect the viability of our critical public safety partnership,” Scruggs said in the statement. “It is the right thing to do and the citizens of Austin deserve nothing less.”

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