Wild Turkey Saloon strip searches, gas-station anal probes, and a random bullet to the temple of a young man with a set of threatening car keys: If any police department in the nation was overdue for an independent overview it was the San Antonio Police Department, where reported officer use-of-force climbed 20 percent between 2006 and 2007.
After months of delay, the SAPD finally released the results of the audit by the non-profit Police Executive Research Forum on the third of July, announcing to a local media already busy trying to plug holes for the short-staffed three-day holiday weekend ahead that SAPD Chief William McManus was accepting 105 of the 141 recommendations to improve use-of-force procedures. The no-brainers included not tasering folks riding bicycles and requiring Internal Affairs to respond to all officer-related shootings.
Other PERF suggestions were rejected (the Tactical Response Unit really loves its camo, apparently), while the remainder were referred to one of three committees set up to work out the minutiae. Most of those items will be back to McManus by New Year’s, but the final batch of committee recommendations won’t roll in until March 31, 2009, according to Deputy Chief Jose Banales.
One PERF recommendation McManus didn’t embrace upfront was, in fact, put into practice in October. Drug-tweeking suspects are not to be tasered; their poor hearts are dizzy already. That policy came too late for one San Antonian, who was repeatedly jolted straight into Second Life.