SHOWDOWN! What to know about the recent feud between SAPD's Chief McManus and the police union

Union president Helle has penned a letter calling for McManus' suspension


SAN ANTONIO – It's a war of words between San Antonio police Chief William McManus and the San Antonio Police Officers Association president Mike Helle.

Helle has been critical of McManus' handling of a recent human smuggling case.

Here's what you need to know about their recent public feud:

SAPOA's Helle wants Chief McManus placed on administrative leave following the Dec. 23 case

McManus has been questioned and criticized over his decision to investigate the Dec. 23 incident involving the release of 12 immigrants found in a tractor-trailer, despite a Homeland Security Investigations agent present at the scene. 

LEARN MORE: Catch up on the facts!

The chief says under the state’s anti-smuggling law, he’s allowed to manage the investigation

McManus said the HSI agent was at Public Safety Headquarters and was given access to the immigrants, who were released to Catholic Charities. The chief also has denied restricting or preventing the agent from taking custody of the immigrants.

SAPOA president Michael Helle disagrees, and wrote a letter addressed to Mayor Ron Nirenberg and members of the San Antonio City Council

In the letter, Helle calls for an independent state or federal agency to investigate whether McManus violated any state or federal laws and that human smuggling cases are "technical and very difficult and require the proper technical training and field experience to manage a positive outcome."

Helle said McManus disregarded the department’s protocol for handling such cases

Helle said that several SAPD detectives are deputized federal agents who work with HSI to investigate and prosecute cases. He said those officers have been trained to call the proper authorities, "hold down the scene" until they arrive, and provide transportation and medical attention if needed.

Helle also said he wants to know why McManus didn’t allow HSI to investigate the case and why they were released to the charity without properly identifying them

Helle criticized the chief's decision to prosecute the case on a state level instead of a federal level.

City Manager Sheryl Sculley is defending McManus


"The chief of police reports to the city manager. I fully support Chief McManus' handling of the smuggling case and have no intention of placing him on administrative leave. No rule, directive, regulation or law was broken or circumvented. The chief acted within his jurisdiction, and as acknowledged by federal law enforcement, had no real authority to hold the 12 individuals after they were questioned.

So are officials with the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services


"Chief McManus demonstrated what victim-centered policing looks like in practice. Our clients had immediate access to social services and legal representation ensuring that, as crime victims, they could focus on providing accurate, essential information to law enforcement officials as they gathered the information necessary to protect public safety," RAICES executive director Jonathan Ryan said.  

sapoa-letter-to-city-council.pdf by David Ibanez on Scribd