SAPD officer handed indefinite suspension over relationship with prostitute

Mark Walaski suspended without pay in July, appealing through arbitration

By Tim Gerber - Reporter/Anchor

SAN ANTONIO - A San Antonio police officer's relationship with a woman accused of being a prostitute has cost him his job.

According to suspension paperwork obtained by the Defenders, SAPD officer Mark Walaski was slapped with an indefinite suspension on July 13.

See a full list of public safety officer suspensions from November 2013 to present here

Walaski is accused of violating department policy for his alleged relationship with Tracy Helmke, who's described in the paperwork as a "drug abuser" with a history of prostitution arrests and convictions.
The department alleges Helmke had an active warrant for prostitution in July 2016 when Walaski began dating her and allowed her to live with him.

Court records show Helmke was convicted this year on two separate prostitution charges.

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In October 2016, Walaski allegedly paid $530 to a bond company to bail Helmke out of jail on warrants for two separate prostitution charges.

On January 30, Helmke reportedly made a 911 call to police reporting a disturbance between her and Walaski. When officers arrived Helmke couldn't be found and Walaski identified himself as an SAPD officer. According to the suspension paperwork, Walaski violated department policy because he didn't report the disturbance to any supervisor.

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On March 8, Walaski "signed a 6 month lease" and began paying for an apartment for Helmke.

Weeks later, on April 14, there was another disturbance between Walaski and Helmke, which he again failed to properly report to supervisors.

Earlier this year, Walaski served a three-day suspension for a separate incident.

He was accused of improperly handling two narcotics cases.

Walaski is currently appealing his indefinite suspension through arbitration. His attorney, Ben Sifuentes, issued the following statement:

On August 3, 2017, Chief (William) McManus made comments to the Washington Post about police officer discipline. Essentially, he agreed that discipline should be overturned when there are factual errors. The chief's letter of suspension for Officer Walaski contains factual errors. We are confident this will be proven.
Incorrectly, contrary to the law, McManus also suggested that he can unilaterally decide what is in the best interest of the community. The Civil Service statutes [Tex. Loc. Gov't. Code Chapter 143] require that a Chief's beliefs be supported by admissible evidence and that such facts be included in the letter of suspension.
In Officer Walaski's case, we are certain will prove that the Chief based his decision based upon conjecture that was not properly investigated.
Additionally, the chief has testified in arbitration's that supervisors he has not fired can do what they want off duty or on their lunch break, when that conduct is far more egregious than what has been alleged against Officer Walaski.  
Finally, the chief has promoted to the second highest rank a person who has engaged in conduct similar to what is alleged in Officer Walaski's suspension.  In the case of this high ranking supervisor, the circumstances surrounding the supervisor caught the attention of the Federal Government.  McManus did not fire that supervisor.

The department issued this statement:

Officer Walaski's actions constitute a serious behavioral infraction which does not align with the ethical standards expected of every SAPD officer. As a result, he was issued an indefinite suspension.

Sifuentes said the two sides are currently going through the process of picking an arbitrator to hear the appeal.

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