The Police Executive
Research Forum’s report on SAPD’s
use-of-force behaviors isn’t War and Peace, but it is over 90
pages and fairly saturated with statistics and other vital data that
residents would be well served to explore.
As I editorialized in this
week’s MashUp, I believe that after a sorry
handling and release of the
PERF report by the City, San Antonians have an opportunity to
latch onto the repeated promises of transparency and public involvement
to continue to guide the reform of the department.
Obviously we owe a debt of gratitude to recently-disgraced attorney
James Myart, who I write about a month back. His bellicose and
sometimes-outrageous exhibitions on behalf of the “least of
these” simply got PERF on the table. This was obvious back in
January when the only public hearing (pictured left) was held by the
PERF investigators in East SA. It is also the opinion of others deep in
the trenches of ongoing civil rights struggles with the PD. A view I
tend to agree with.
So, what now? In talking with
the Chief yesterday, the reform-minded head of SAPD, William McManus
reiterated how personally important it is to him that the coming
committee work and the examinations by three convened taskforces are
open to the public. Those taskforces will focus on use-of-force,
Internal Affairs, and “general manual.” How open
they will be will depend a lot on how the proceedings may be accessed.
Whether there will be transcripts or streaming video or what. They are
questions that remain to be answered. It’s a new baby.
We’ll be posting the full interview online with the story. In
the near future, we’ll be turning this stuff around much more
quickly as we move to increase daily content offerings on a coming
much-needed revamped website.
Here are a couple nuggets I had to scratch from the print version of
One of the recommendations was
folks would not be required to file [complaints] at the police
department, they’d be able to file those either in the mail
or online. Is that something you agree with? It
is something I agree with. I think there needs to be alternate ways
of filing a complaint if responding to Internal Affairs. If the
Internal Affairs office is not a viable option for you, there needs to
be some alternative way for you to file a complaint. I think making
this process as accessible and as transparent as we can does nothing
but build the public’s trust in the process.
that’s on the forms now includes a warning of, a prominent
warning, of aggravated perjury. Do you think that has limited people
from filing complaints? Well,
the report had some concern about that. There’s
actually an issue. We’ll likely remove the prominence of it,
but it will still be on there.
The City in general, the
PD, the City Manager’s office, everybody’s taken a
lot of criticism, or some degree of criticism. The fact that it took so
long to get it out. That it came out right before the July 4 weekend.
How was that handled? What needed to happen before it was released and
who was ultimately in charge of deciding when to release it? Well,
we were working with the City Attorney’s office and the
City Manager’s office to clarify a lot of the language in the
initial report, the draft report, and also to discuss the conflicts
created by the local government code recommendations. We spent a lot of
time putting this matrix together and going over it again and again,
trying to get the language to where it was understandable where anyone
who wanted to read it could understand it. That took a lot of the time
up. Trying to time the release of it with a lot of the other events
going on was somewhat of a task. We
didn’t want to release the report and then have all these
questions raised by the report and not have answers for it. We thought
the best thing to do was to put this matrix together and it provided a
response to any questions about what we were going to with any of these
Yeah. What would be instructive is the viewing of the original report
shipped from PERF to McManus that has since seen such a working over.
McManus has accepted, as has been reported repeatedly, 105 of 141
recognized (by McManus) PERF recommendations. A few (seven) were
rejected outright. It’s important to know why. Taking the
Tactical Response Unit out of camouflage was one of those. A strange
exception, to my thinking, that isn’t defended significantly
in McManus’s response "matrix."
There are still 29 recommendations that are to be debated. A few of
this story includes whether the PD should change Tactical Response Unit
partners regularly and integrate more Patrol officers in?
A few that will certainly irritate the police union. For
example, McManus accepted the recommendation that officer suspensions
remain on record for three rather than 2 years and that the City should
work to end the process by which the police union can stop
objectionable civilian members from being appointed to the
Chief’s Advisory Action Board.
If you haven’t yet, check out the report and let us know what
reform aspects you find most deserving of sustained scrutiny.