Fixing SAPD: Act One


By Greg Harman

It's been more than a month since Police Chief Bill McManus (above, right, next to PERF's Tegeler) and other city leaders authorized the release of a veritable catalog of use-of-force-related policy-change recommendations submitted to McManus by a City-contracted D.C.-based non-profit police practices organization.

Since the July 3 release of the 141 recommendations and McManus's sketched response, a fog of questions have hung over the department.

Exactly how would the PD implement more than 100 changes the Chief has agreed to make?

What process would be followed to debate the merits of many of the others that McManus is still considering â?? particularly the use of tasers and the citizen complaint process at Internal Affairs?

And how would members be chosen to serve on the committees that had begun to form in the report's wake?

Surrounded by faux Deco lamps, intricately tooled wainscoting, and carved lion's heads over the room's double doors of Ariel House on Datapoint, the two sides â?? including members of the Police Executive Research Forum who performed the use-of-force review for the city â?? hashed out their differences and worked to find an amenable way forward.

Former City Council member Mario Salas (right), heading the San Antonio Human and Civil Rights Coalition's response to PERF's findings, said he was wary of seeing any "Trojan horses" inflicted into the committees.

"I just don't want to see these committees stacked with people who have secret relationships with people who really have set agendas against what we're trying to accomplish here," he said.

McManus shared his explanation for the long-delayed report, originally expected in February, adding it had been "a bit more extensive than initially believed."

Most gave McManus props for attempting to tackle corruption within the force â?? but not a free pass.

"Your department is sick. And that is what it is," said one man (left), who alleged being beaten while in custody downtown.

Still, the PERF reps backed McManus to the hilt.

"It seems to me that the department wants to accept these recommendations. In some ways they want to move futher than we recommended," said PERF Deputy Director Bill Tegeler. "San Antonio is going beyond what I've seen other communities do."

Missed the exclusive meeting or just wondering what the finely tested art of compromise sounds like up close? We'll let you listen in.

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