SA mayoral candidate using police officers to escort people to polls
Manuel Medina says he's hired private police escorts for years
SAN ANTONIO – With just days to go before Election Day, mayoral candidate Manuel Medina is answering questions about videos posted to the Medina for Mayor Facebook page that show two officers blocking traffic and leading caravans of voters to polling sites.
The videos, recorded on Facebook Live April 22 and April 29, show motorcycle officers on bikes with sirens and flashing lights.
In one of the videos, an officer’s uniform has a patch that shows San Antonio police, depicting a design similar to the one worn by San Antonio police officers.
“Since I’ve been chairman of the (Bexar County) Democratic Party, we've had caravans and we have hired private police escorts,” said Medina. “It’s never been an issue. Why? Because we're not using city employees or anything related to the city. But it’s an issue today!”
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Medina said he hired the officers through a private company, although he could only provide the company’s phone number, not the company’s name.
Calls to the number appeared to be directed to a private voicemail box.
Medina said the officers used their private motorcycles for the caravan and he maintains they were not SAPD officers.
When asked what departments the officers worked for, Medina referred us to the company he used to hire them.
SAPD said it is looking into whether the officers were any of its own and if any rules were broken.
“Anyone can simply call and hire private police escorts for their events, their caravans, their processions,” Medina said. “It’s something very common.”
“We had a caravan on Sunday, two on Saturday. The previous week we had one on Sunday, two on Saturday,” Medina added.
Texas Local Government Code states that an officer in uniform or on active duty may not play an active role in someone’s political campaign including soliciting votes.
Calls to Ron Nirenberg’s campaign, one of Medina’s main opponents in the mayoral race, said Medina’s actions “speak for themselves” and provided no further comment.
Mayor Ivy Taylor’s re-election campaign manager, meanwhile, did not mince words in a released statement.
“We obviously don’t know how Manuel Medina convinced San Antonio police officers to escort his caravan to the polls,” said Christian Anderson, campaign manager for Re-Elect Mayor Taylor. “But now we know what kind of mayor he would be – a little Napoleon who thinks it’s appropriate to divert police officers from protecting San Antonians so he can have a flashy, important-looking motorcade.”
Medina said he thinks Taylor was jealous of the police caravan idea.
“We've been doing this for five years. No one has had a problem with it until right now, when we're a few days away from Election Day,” Medina said.
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