SAN ANTONIO – Controversy is arising as the city of San Antonio and Bexar County disagree on which inmate intake system is more efficient.
The county has a new inmate intake facility that will allow law enforcement officers to take people they arrest to the center starting in late September or early October.
Bexar County said the new open booking concept allows the county more ability to assess the mental and physical health of those arrested while providing a secure state-of-the-art facility that connects to the main jail.
Representatives from the 26 cities in Bexar County showed up for a tour Wednesday and say they support the new center’s goals and design – all except for San Antonio, which makes at least 60 percent of the county’s arrests.
The county spent about $10 million on the new intake center, but San Antonio police Chief William McManus said San Antonio police won’t be using it.
“After we looked at it, after we consulted with groups of officers who make a lot of arrests, there were pages of complaints, concerns about taking prisoners over to the new processing center,” McManus said.
Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff was surprised about the decision.
“We've been talking to them for years, right to the end when they said they don't want to come here after we already invested all this money,” Wolff said.
“The issue from the very, very beginning was that this thing was planned, designed before it was even presented to us,” McManus said.
McManus said he would have arranged things differently.
“We would not be able to completely relinquish custody of our prisoner to the guards as we do now,” McManus said. “The processing flow is not what it needs to be to get our officers back on the street in a timely way as they are now.”
McManus said the opposite of what Wolff said Wednesday. Walking through the sally port, Wolff said the facility will allow officers to get back on the streets faster.
“We're going to be able to handle it in a much more expeditious manner here than we do in the facility we're in now,” Wolff said.
Currently, everyone who is arrested in Bexar County is taken to the Magistrate’s Office near the municipal court downtown. When the new intake facility opens, the city will take over the Magistrate’s Office and will handle its own intake. When people need to go to jail, however, they’ll still have to be taken to the new center afterward.
“When we accept that prisoner, has he met all the standards that need to be met before they're brought in? So we'll review the work that they've done, and if there's something wrong with it, then we'll correct it,” Wolff said.
Talks between the city and county are planned, but for now, it seems the intake systems will operate separately.