A panel of neighborhood members has beneficial the Austin Police Division take away 60 movies from its coaching curriculum after concluding they bolster racist and sexist concepts and do little to assist officers constructively work together with the general public.
“The overwhelming majority of the movies we reviewed over these seven months had been disappointing in high quality. Most had been outdated, many had been exhausting to comply with and had poor viewability, and a few had unprofessional or sensationalistic commentary,” the panelists wrote in a 26-page report released Monday.
“However by far essentially the most alarming sample we witnessed was the dangerous stereotypes perpetuated towards Black and Brown communities,” it stated.
The report additionally echoed the priority that APD officers are educated with an “us-versus-them” mentality which will escalate encounters with the general public, a problem most just lately raised in a separate examination of the police division’s coaching curriculum.
“Of their interactions with neighborhood members, we repeatedly watched officers cling to concepts of management that perpetuate the should be an aggressive alpha male and having to say dominance,” the panelists wrote. “We noticed little to no room supplied for law enforcement officials to show apart from a ‘want’ to be dominant in an effort to higher hook up with, and work with, the neighborhood on a human stage.”
A metropolis spokesperson stated APD administration labored intently with the panel and agreed with its suggestions.
“APD made rapid modifications the place potential and deliberate for long term modifications,” the spokesperson stated in an e mail.
APD wouldn’t elaborate on the modifications it has made.
The 11-member panel spent the higher half of a 12 months watching 112 movies utilized by APD to coach officers. The report is a component of a bigger evaluation and revision of police coaching supplies being finished by Metropolis Supervisor Spencer Cronk’s workplace. (A metropolis spokesperson stated the workplace would evaluation the suggestions on this newest report.)
Council members requested for the evaluation in December 2019, and determined to pause any new cadet courses till coaching supplies may very well be reviewed and revised. Whereas that has but to occur, at the very least two Council members have expressed an curiosity in restarting new coaching courses.
On the similar time, Council asked for a sweeping audit of racism and bigotry inside the police division; late final 12 months, Council members accredited a $1.3 million contract with a 3rd celebration to try this investigation.
These efforts have taken place towards the backdrop of a nationwide name for modifications to policing that erupted final summer time after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. As lots of protested in Austin, Council members voted to cut millions from the police finances.
Of the 112 movies panelists watched, 44 p.c depicted Black individuals as the topic in interactions with police. (Austin’s Black inhabitants is about 8 p.c.) As well as, panelists wrote of their report, white topics seemed to be afforded the advantage of the doubt in police interactions, whereas officers acted extra violently towards individuals of colour.
“For instance, one video of an armed white man confirmed an officer talking calmly and reiterating the individual’s proper to hold a firearm,” the report reads. “In distinction, in movies the place individuals of colour had been armed and even unarmed, law enforcement officials handled them as threats and moved in the direction of use of power with nice velocity.”
Panelists argue that the outcomes of this “unequal policing” are very tangible; they pointed to a current report from a number of metropolis departments, together with the Workplace of Police Oversight, that regarded on the race of these stopped by APD officers in 2019. Their analysis found that Black drivers had been 3 times extra more likely to be arrested after being pulled over by police.
The report additionally notes that almost all of movies watched by the group offered sexist views of girls. It was uncommon to see a feminine officer, and when there was one, she was disregarded by male officers.
General, panelists wrote that the overwhelming majority of the movies offered solely concepts of how officers shouldn’t reply to conditions, relatively than giving examples to new officers of the way to deal with sure conditions.
This, the panelists wrote, may have dire penalties.
“The continual repetition of ‘What NOT to Do’ interactions really reinforces adverse habits; can result in officer desensitization about abuse, injustices and corruption; and dehumanizes the neighborhood that the officers are sworn to guard.”
The report consists of quite a few suggestions, together with a dialogue of biases throughout coaching and a course on the historical past of policing and race within the U.S., depictions of how officers ought to behave as an alternative of how to not behave and a transfer away from an “us-versus-them” mindset.
This story was produced as a part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT.
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