Chief McManus recommends cite-and-release policy for minor offenses

'It will ensure more efficient, effective use of police resources,' mayor says

By Dawn Jorgenson - Web - News Editor
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SAN ANTONIO - San Antonio Police Chief William McManus sent a memo Thursday to City Manager Sheryl Sculley, recommending that officers be allowed to use discretion when deciding whether to arrest someone for a minor offense, city officials said.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg applauded McManus' directive, saying, "Cite and release will reduce jail crowding and enable police officers to use their time on serious crimes instead of arresting nonviolent marijuana users. It will ensure a more efficient, effective use of police resources to keep our city safe.”

RELATED: Drug rehabilitation experts applaud Bexar County's new cite and release program

Councilmembers Manny Pelaez, Cruz Shaw and Shirley Gonzales have worked with McManus over the last several months to advocate for a cite-and-release police for SAPD officers. It would allow people to be diverted from jail while freeing up law enforcement officials to focus on more serious offenses.

"Addressing the crime we see across the city is one of my biggest priorities as chair of the Public Safety Committee,” Shaw said. “Implementing a cite-and-release program for possession of small amounts of marijuana would save our law enforcement officers a lot of time and free up resources to allow SAPD to focus on more egregious offenses, especially those involving gun violence."

"There are young people in our community that have a hard time seeking job opportunities due to a criminal record for low-level possession,” Gonzales said.

READ MORE: Pilot program to allow low-level, nonviolent offenders to avoid jail

She said she hopes the cite-and-release program will offer those people a second chance by having an option to take a drug education class or do community service.

Palaez said a council agreement to allocate millions of dollars toward increasing officer headcount was not with the vision for police to waste time dealing with minor offenses.

“Officers should not be tied up for hours taking someone with an ounce or two of marijuana to jail and dealing with the tedious paperwork that follows," he said "All that time translates into taxpayer dollars that could be used to focus on more serious offenses.”

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