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KSAT Defenders: Hundreds of San Antonio traffic tickets dismissed for officer no-shows

SAPD: Officers with unexcused absences face disciplinary actions

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SAN ANTONIO - Between April 2012 and April 2013, the San Antonio Police Department filed 220,840 traffic violations.

Of those violations, 22,400 were set for trial, but the reality is that there were hundreds of local drivers that didn't get their day in court.

Of the violations set for trial, 555 were dismissed at the judge's discretion because an officer failed to show up.

San Antonio police Sgt. Javier Salazar said for officers failing to show up in court with insufficient reasons, there is a disciplinary process.

Salazar did not specify how many officers were disciplined for missing a court date, but he did say corrective action is taken when necessary -- generally in the form of officers forfeiting their personal leave time.

He also explained in some cases, failure to appear is excusable.

"An on-duty officer may be assigned to a call that's pressing and he can't get freed up in time to get to court," Salazar said.

Excused or not, there is a money at stake.

With the average fine paid on a violation at $116, the city potentially lost out on more than $60,000 during a 1-year period because of officer no-shows.

Walking out of the San Antonio Municipal Court, Attorney J.K. Ivey said, "Most people are led like sheep to the slaughter. (They) write their checks to the city and move on."

Ivey said most people don't realize they have a right to insist on a trial.

"I actually think that would be nice, just because expenses with the economy the way it is, it's sometimes unbearable anyway," said driver John Cuellar.

While most drivers are OK with getting a break, some have a more principled outlook.

"They should show up since we're paying them. I mean, we're taxpayers and they should be doing their job just like everybody else does," said driver Mario Hurtado.

For a list of recent stories April Molina has done, click here.


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