Criminal JusticeLocal NewsCity of Austin Approved $10,000 Per Day Critical Race Theory Training for Police Department

Austin police officers are subject to racial sensitivity trainings heavily imbued with critical race theory teachings.
July 29, 2021
The City of Austin has contracted the services of a systemic racism training group for $10,000 per day for instruction of the Austin Police Department (APD) as part of its “reimagining” of police initiative.

The contract with Joyce James Consulting (JJC) may be extended for up to five years and is not to exceed $2.9 million in total payment. In total, the contract provides for 58 days of consultation by JJC in the first year.

Founded by Joyce James, a former Associate Deputy Executive Commissioner of the Center for the Elimination of Disproportionality and Disparities of the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, JJC provides “an interactive, revolutionary exploration into how systems of racism work.”

With critical race theory (CRT) serving as a foundation, trainings such as JJC’s are aimed at instilling an “anti-racist” underpinning within institutions and those who constitute them. CRT is a branch of the broader “critical theory” doctrine, and this branch specifically purports that racism is intrinsic in societal structures rather than simply interpersonal.

JJC’s training is called “A Groundwater Analysis of Racial Inequities.”

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A contract amendment with source material for the trainings put together by JJC says, “The theories of action that can serve as the initial foundation for systems ongoing equity efforts include transformative learning, critical race theory (CRT), and adult learning.”

In an internal email obtained by The Texan, James dismissed concern from an officer that CRT was part and parcel with the trainings.

“The description in [the source material] states that critical race theory is one of three theories of action that can serve as a foundation for racial equity work in discussing and understanding the why of disparate outcomes across helping systems for same populations,” she said.

JJC’s website makes statements such as “equal treatment does not lead to equity” and that “well-meaning people contribute to and sustain racial inequities.”

The trainings have begun and appear to have already caused issues within APD.

At one such training, emails show one or multiple individual attendees were asked to leave by James when some expressed disagreement with the teachings and refused to acknowledge a “contract” presented by the class instructors during a May 27-28 meeting.

At that meeting, according to emails, JJC brought in a representative with The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond — an anti-racist training organization.

In an internal memo detailing the events that led to the expulsions, APD Commander Donald Baker, one of those asked to leave, stated, “After the facilitator advised the class [that] he is not an attorney and verified no one in attendance was an attorney, he said the contract was a binding agreement with the participants in the class.”

The “contract” was purportedly displayed on a PowerPoint slide.

“He then proceeded to ask by show of hands who all agreed to the contract Joyce James Consulting did not respond to a request for comment by this publishing,” Baker continued.

Baker and another attendee did not raise their hands and were questioned by the instructor along with James herself, during which they expressed disagreement, as Baker says, with the idea of institutional racism in the U.S., Texas, Austin, and the department.

“Joyce James made it clear to the class,” Baker added, “[that] if anyone could not agree 100 [percent] with the items of the contract, they need to leave the class.”

The city council also approved a similar training program for its academy recruits.

Neither Mayor Steve Adler’s office nor JJC returned a request for comment on the contract.

Austin’s effort to “reimagine” its police department commenced last year with a $150 million budget cut and redirection that removed large functions out from under the APD umbrella and cut funding for multiple cadet classes.

As of earlier this month, APD is short over 160 patrol officers and is 390 officers short of the widely considered adequate staffing level of two officers per 1,000 residents. 

Currently, a petition effort to refund APD and require a higher staffing level is in the validation stage and is likely to make it to the November ballot.

In the 2021-2022 proposed city budget, many of those subtractions from APD were restored but the officer patrol funding category is $3 million less than its 2019 total.

View the contract below:


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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.