SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Police Department paid out more than $391,000 during a 3 1/2-year period to officers who were being investigated for possible misconduct, according to records obtained by the KSAT 12 Defenders.
In one case, an officer charged with driving while intoxicated in Hays County collected more than $83,300 in paid leave over more than 16 months while waiting for the criminal case to be resolved.
"We want the case to be adjudicated administratively and criminally, before they're either brought back or a final disposition is reached," said Police Chief William McManus.
Of the 17 officers placed on administrative leave from the start of 2013 to July 2016, only three remain with the department, according to city records.
All three -- Officer James Ferguson, Officer Sergio Hernandez and Detective Brandon Campbell -- faced criminal charges that were later dismissed.
"It's a complicated calculus, trying to determine what the proper discipline is," said Dr. Howard Williams, a criminal justice lecturer at Texas State University, who spent 36 years working in law enforcement.
Williams was chief of the San Marcos Police Department for 11 years.
"Police officers are very expensive to recruit, hire and train. If you terminate one, it's going to be a while before you have someone to replace them," said Williams.
Section 143 of the local government code allows police chiefs to temporarily suspend an accused officer without pay, but Williams said chiefs often hesitate to do so.
"It's a budgetary issue for a chief to suspend someone without pay, because at the end of all this -- let's say the case goes two years -- you've got to come up with two years back pay for an officer and you don't have it," said Williams.
A San Antonio Police Department spokesperson said officers who have been charged with crimes in other counties tend to stay on paid leave longer, since internal affairs investigators are forced to rely on outside law enforcement agencies to provide them with information on the cases.
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