The race to the bottom has begun. The delayed release of the requested
study of the San
Antonio Police Department’s use-of-force policies
and procedures was
posted on the City’s website today. Now the
anti-authoritarian hordes are diligently chewing their way to the
bottom of the 98-page document. (To wash it down, we have the
SAPD’s “matrix” report of a mere 14
Executive Research Forum returned its findings months ago,
but the department chose not to release them until Chief William
McManus had a chance to draft his response to the “numerous
recommendations” made by the panel (141 by the PD’s
A quick scan reveals the following recommendations:
* A taser-discharge quota (not that you have to use them up by
month’s end, fellas);
* No more shooting at moving vehicles unless there’s an
actual threat involved. (Unless you have news cameras on the scene.
What could be more flash?!);
* Stop threatening those filing citizen complaints with potential
aggravated perjury charges.
* And when it comes to the high-intensity, camo-geared Tactical
Response Unit, well, where to begin?
TRU officers seemed to
generate a disproportionate number of complaints. The department has
already made some changes, but it needs to continue to monitor the
tactics and performance of the TRU and of its other special units.
Some personnel have been changed and the TRU’s operational
philosophy and practices have been altered. The department reviewed
complaints against TRU members and provided officers with information
on how to better manage their encounters with people in the
The geographic boundaries of TRU areas of operation were expanded so
that their “omnipresence” did not create an aura of
an occupying army in their assigned neighborhoods.
The TRU has purposefully looked for opportunities to work with the
community in other than enforcement functions. Such changes seemed to
have enabled the unit to continue to successfully address crime
problems but have decreased complaints.
Each SAPD special unit should have a distinct purpose but the
department should ensure they act in a coordinated approach. Care
should be taken to avoid units trying to become wholly self-contained.
For example, risky warrant service and entries should be an exclusive
part of the SWAT Detail’s function. They have the training,
experience and equipment to ensure that such events are carried with
maximum safety. Allowing other units to take on this role jeopardizes
both officer and public safety.
The department should structure on-going communication among station
commanders, special unit commanders, supervisors and residents in the
neighborhoods and areas of concentrated operations. On-going
communication and neighborhood involvement will make operations more
productive and safer.
Unless in plainclothes assignments, unit members should wear the
standard SAPD uniform rather than military garb. Other than in special
circumstances such as SWAT call outs, they are performing police duties
rather than military operations. They should avoid taking on the
trapping of an “occupying army.”
The department’s matrix outlines which recommendations it
would accept, which it would consider, and which just
Of the 141 recommendations, only seven were rejected outright.
Interesting that one of those would be the issue of TRU officers
getting back in uniform. They’re just diggin’ on
The justification for not accepting PERF’s recommendation?
“Members of TRU wear uniforms that are consistent within