SAN ANTONIO – A leader of Fix SAPD, a group focused on police accountability, joined KSAT Q&A Tuesday to share the group’s goal of getting the San Antonio police union to revisit two of the most controversial chapters in the union contract.
“We’re not looking to overthrow the system, but we are for is a commonsense solution,” said Amanda Tomas, one of the group’s organizers. “When an officer does something wrong, they should be held accountable. It’s something that’s true for everyone. That should include police officers.”
The group is petitioning to have chapters 143 and 174 of the Texas Local Government Code on the ballot in May 2021.
Fix SAPD need 20,000 signatures to get chapter 174, which allows for police officers and firefighters to participate in collective bargaining for a contract, on the ballot. And 80,000 signatures are needed to revisit chapter 143, which includes procedures for discipline upon which parts of the current police union contract are based.
These chapters have been scrutinized for protecting “bad officers.” A KSAT Defenders investigation, Broken Blue, found that between 2010 and 2019, about two-thirds of fired SAPD officers who sought arbitration were reinstated - either by an arbitrator or by Chief William McManus.
“These laws protects bad officers, good officers don’t need them,” Tomas said. “By holding police officers more accountable, we’re not just protecting our citizens, but we’re protecting our good officers.”
President Mike Helle of the San Antonio Police Officer Association has said he believe collective bargaining can be used as a tool for reform and a repeal would be detrimental to the department and city.
Though the current collective bargaining agreement expires Sep. 30, 2021, it also has an eight-year evergreen clause that Helle says would keep it in effect until Sep. 30, 2029.
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