KSAT Defenders: SAPD, SAFD suspensions total 125 over two years

Wrecks, alcohol, violence common problems

Author: Brian Mylar, Reporter, bmylar@ksat.com
Published On: Nov 20 2013 08:32:02 PM CST   Updated On: Nov 21 2013 03:54:46 AM CST
officer suspension

A KSAT 12 Defenders investigation found over the last two years, there have been 125 suspensions of San Antonio police officers and firefighters.

Of those, 33 police officers were suspended for misusing or wrecking their vehicles, 19 for failing to appropriately respond to calls, and 17 for violence, alcohol or drug issues.

San Antonio Police Chief Bill McManus said there are different kinds of mistakes that officers make.

“A lot of times, officers will make good-faith errors in judgment when they're doing their jobs,” McManus said. "The ones that are more disconcerting are the misconduct cases."

In one example, an officer is seen on security camera video at Santa's Place, a nightclub where the dance floor is hopping. The on-duty officer walks onto the floor shortly after 2 a.m. and grabs his girlfriend and leads her out of the club.

He was issued a 15-day suspension because he was not there on official police matters. 

McManus said there are nearly 2,300 police officers in San Antonio with stressful jobs and problems just like anyone else and that they are held to a higher standard.

“We're held accountable,” McManus said. “We're held accountable by the public. If you make an honest, good-faith error in judgment, we'll deal with that accordingly.”

One officer was suspended for sending an email with a naked picture of himself.

Another was suspended for paying someone at least $50 to pose for photos on a hotel room bed in an SAPD uniform shirt in a provocative manner.

After a domestic dispute one officer was suspended after it was found that he threw a woman into the front yard naked.

At a River Walk restaurant, one officer on duty was seen drinking two beers.

There were seven suspensions due to prisoner problems, seven for cop-on-cop disturbances and 24 other suspensions, totaling 107 in two years.

"At some point, we're going to mess up, and when we do, we handle it,” McManus said.

The fire department had a number of the suspensions due to alcohol or drugs.

Fire Chief Charles Hood said new programs have been implemented to address substance abuse.

In the two-year period, there were 10 suspensions for alcohol and drugs, three for absences and five others, totaling 18.

"With our firefighters that had DWI problems, we basically gave them 15-day suspensions right off the bat," Hood said. “The firefighters are able to work, but they're going to be at services at our logistics center (or) they're going to be doing other types of duties to where they have no contact with the citizens.”

Hood said there has only been one DWI in the last year.

“So the problem has been knocked down considerably,” Hood said. “We need to educate our firefighters. We do hold them to a higher expectation.”

Hood said DWI cases were a problem in 2010 and some took a while to move through the system. He said that is why they showed up in the last two years.

For a list of recent stories Brian Mylar has done, click here.