SAN ANTONIO – Members of the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association of Bexar County recently returned a vote of "no confidence" for Sheriff Susan Pamerleau.
However, only a small percentage of members actually participated in the vote that took place online between April 15 and May 1.
Juan Contreras, president of the DSABC, said Monday he was not surprised by the low turnout by his members.
Of the 1,173 uniformed members who belong to the association Contreras said only 244 participated in the vote.
Contreras said only 682 members were actually registered on the website where the votes were cast. "I expected about this type of turnout and I'm very happy with the way it turned out," Contreras said. "Historically we have had very little participation when it comes to voting through the website and when you get 36 percent of your registered people on the website to vote, I'm very optimistic."
Contreras said 219 members voted they had no confidence in Pamerleau while 25 gave the sheriff a vote of confidence.
Contreras said other reasons for the low turnout were fears of retaliation and the fact the association has already backed Javier Salazar for sheriff in the upcoming election.
"Some of my members told me personally that they didn't feel they needed to vote because the endorsement alone was a vote of no confidence to them," he said.
The vote had nothing to do with the ongoing contract negotiations with the sheriff according to Contreras.
He said members asked for the vote so they could voice their concerns.
Contreras cited low morale, high turnover, and a lack of support from the sheriff and her administration which he said leads to deputies second-guessing themselves because they fear discipline.
"As a matter of fact we've already scheduled a few more dates coming up. We've been at the table along with the county team. Progress, even though it's slow for some people, it's still being made and we hope to keep the pace going," Contreras said. "We just want to be treated fairly."
The Sheriff's Office was quick to respond to the vote totals by the DSABC membership saying in a press release this afternoon:
Approximately 1,600 men and women are uniformed deputies for the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office. After more than two weeks of DSABC voting, only 219 of those deputies cast ballots of no confidence. While the Sheriff seeks the support of all her employees, she finds satisfaction knowing, as indicated by the lack of participation, the majority of BCSO employees are focused most on protecting the citizens of Bexar County.