SAN ANTONIO – While holding up posters of social media posts that called on defunding the police, the San Antonio Police Officers Association urged voters on Tuesday to oppose Proposition B, which would repeal the police department’s collective bargaining rights if approved in May.
SAPOA President Danny Diaz accused Fix SAPD — the organization that spearheaded the movement behind Prop B — of lying to the voters about the true intentions of the proposal.
Fix SAPD’s leaders have previously stated that the repeal is about officer accountability, but Diaz said partner organizations of the group have made explicit calls to “defund the police.”
“The organizations who support us do not define our own mission, we do,” Ananda Tomas, Fix SAPD’s deputy director, told KSAT on Tuesday. “These organizations work on a wealth of issues from fixing police contracts to supporting candidates for some of them, district attorney reform, mobilizing black voters, aiding refugee and immigrant families. Our mission at Fix SAPD is for a fair police contract that serves the needs of our community and the officers of SAPD.”
Repealing Chapter 174, the state code that allows officers to negotiate collective bargaining agreements, would not affect budgetary decisions, Tomas said.
But Diaz said the repeal amounts to defunding by taking away their seat at the bargaining table.
“When you’re taking away something, that’s defunding,” Diaz said.
Diaz also invited Alonzio Hardin, the president of the San Antonio Black Police Officers Coalition, to speak. Harden said the repeal would hurt Black families and Black communities.
Tension has been building between both groups over the past several months, as activists worked to garner enough signatures to trigger the referendum.
Meanwhile, negotiations over the next collective bargaining agreement are already underway, and officer discipline is expected to be a main sticking point for city officials and police union officials alike. Unless a new contract is finalized first, those negotiations would come to a halt if Proposition B is passed, and the department would return to scaled down policies and procedures when the current contract expires later this year.
While the repeal effort has not garnered support from San Antonio Police Chief William McManus, he has previously said the current agreement “protects bad officers.” Some of the protections include a brief statute of limitations, limited civilian oversight, and delayed interviews for officers accused of misconduct.