OLMOS PARK, Texas – The Olmos Park Police Department is opting out of Bexar County's new cite and release program.
Olmos Park Police Chief Rene Valenciano said the new program isn't necessary, and he wants to "follow the rule of law."
Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar and District Attorney Nico LaHood feel very differently. They said it's a way to give low-level criminals a second chance, get officers back on the street and free up jail space.
Starting Wednesday, officers can decide to cite and release suspects instead of jailing them if the offenders are 17 or older, have a valid ID, live in Bexar County, have no pending criminal cases and are arrested for any of the following nonviolent misdemeanors:
Possession of marijuana less than 4 ounces
Criminal mischief under $750
Theft and theft of service under $750
Driving while license invalid
Synthetic marijuana and graffiti are excluded from the list.
Anyone who gets a citation will still have to pay fines, take education classes and complete eight hours of community service.
It's all information Olmos Park police officers won't need to memorize. They won't be using the program.
"I believe that if it's a criminal act, people need to pay the consequences and go to jail, and there's a process for that already in the criminal justice system. So I don't see how circumventing the process by issuing them a citation is going to solve the problem," Valenciano said.
Olmos Park boundary lines border San Antonio on all sides. Valenciano has explained his stance to his officers so they can relay the information to any citizens who may be confused.
Most people who aren't from Olmos Park go through the city on McCullough Avenue. One entrance to the city is at McCullough and Annie Street, near Hildebrand Avenue. The other city limit sign is at McCullough Avenue and Mariposa Drive. Inside those two signs, that cite and release program does not apply.
When asked if he would change his mind in the future if he saw how the program was working at other agencies, Valenciano said "probably not."
The San Antonio Police Department said Thursday that they have not yet received any information into how the cite and release program would work and that there are no immediate plans to participate.
The SAPD Public Information Office released the following statement early Thursday morning:
The Bexar County Sheriff and the DA are currently working on a pilot program for cite and release. SAPD and the City of San Antonio have had limited talks with the Bexar County District Attorney's Office to study the issue, examine the impact and determine a proper course for implementation. At this time, no decisions on cite and release between SAPD and the Bexar County DA's Office have been finalized.