Policing the police: A look at SAPD's 2015 Internal Affairs Annual Report

Formal complaints were down, use of force complaints increased over past year


SAN ANTONIO – In an effort to be more transparent with the public the San Antonio Police Department has been sharing information online about how the agency investigates complaints against its officers.

The department recently released its Internal Affairs Annual Report for 2015 which details the number and type of complaints leveled against San Antonio officers.

"We take all complaints seriously. We don't ignore or downplay any of them," Chief William McManus said. 

"When it is brought to our attention it is investigated thoroughly by Internal Affairs."

McManus said overall, SAPD is a good department full of good officers who do an excellent job protecting and serving the public every day but sometimes a few of those officers make mistakes.

"Nobody's perfect. We have officers that mess up just like any department around the country and when they do, we deal with it," McManus said.

The department tracks four types of complaints including formal complaints, which involve serious infractions like an officer's behavior and line complaints which are less serious and can include how an officer searches a prisoner.

In 2015, SAPD's Internal Affairs Unit recorded 174 formal complaints and 373 line complaints.

Compared to 2014 formal complaints were down by 11.7 percent and line complaints rose 50.4 percent.
The department also tracks use of force complaints.

According to the annual report there were 1,157 use of force incidents down slightly from 1,189 in 2014.

McManus explained that the number of use of force complaints had been rising over the last five years, after the department changed the definition of use of force.

"Used to be if we were to take someone to the ground that was not considered a use of force, if we take them down now it's considered use of force so that bumped our numbers up," McManus said.

When it comes to racial profiling there were only 2 formal complaints in 2015. According to the report one complaint was deemed "unfounded" while the other was "deactivated" when no violations were found.

The report also shows 16 officers were enrolled in the department's Officer Concern Program, which is designed to help officers deal with personal and work related problems that affect an officer's job performance.

"The program is designed to provide whatever assistance an officer needs to kind of get back on track," McManus said.

Depending on the officer involved and the complaints against him or her, punishments range from firing or suspensions to more training.

"We take corrective action that will address the problem," McManus said. "Sometimes it's punitive, sometimes it's training. We try to do everything from an education-based standpoint."

McManus said so far in 2016 complaints are down across the board when compared to the same time last year.

He said there have been 45 formal complaints this year compared to 86 last year. They've logged 106 line complaints while there were 143 this time last year. Finally, there have been 381 use of force complaints compared to 465 in 2015.

Click here to read the full report.

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