‘There is nothing I could tell him’: Popovich declines sit down with SAPOA leader after Prop B endorsement

Popovich said “Proposition B looks like a step in the right direction” for accountability with police departments

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) (Jason Miller, 2021 Getty Images)

SAN ANTONIO – Gregg Popovich has been vocal this week about his support for Proposition B on the May 1 ballot, but on Thursday declined an invitation to discuss the measure further with the head of the San Antonio Police Officers Association.

The Spurs coach said he would “absolutely not” have any interest in sitting down with SAPOA president Danny Diaz to discuss Prop B, adding “there is nothing I could tell him.”

Diaz was critical of Popovich on Wednesday saying in a press release, “you’re the greatest basketball coach in the world, but on Prop. B, you threw a brick,” in reference to Popovich’s statements earlier in the day.

Popovich spoke to the media on Wednesday morning about the Derek Chauvin verdicts and was asked about Prop B, which if passed, would repeal the right for San Antonio police officers to collective bargain with the City of San Antonio on their labor contract.

“Proposition B looks like a step in the right direction so a yes vote on that I think is prudent, but it doesn’t get you where you need to be. We’re one of the few cities in Texas that still has collective bargaining,” Popovich said Wednesday. “We have to go further. People can’t be intimidated. There has to be accountability in police unions’ work. An organization that seeks as little accountability as possible should be a problem. There’s a reason for seeking as little accountability as possible, and that’s not good. We need to go further and hopefully, that can happen in negotiations, but Proposition B is the first step.”

Prior to being asked specifically about Prop B, Popovich blasted the structure of police unions and officer disciplinary protections across the country.

“Police unions use power in a way that does not protect and serve in many cases, and the power has to be taken away as much as possible just like with the NRA. We can’t believe and deal with the tactics they’ve used over the years,” said Popovich. “Calling out defunding is deceptive. It’s a lie. I think that more than anything, we have to remember to be on guard, to call it out, that justice has not been realized yet.”

WATCH: KSAT Explains: Proposition B in San Antonio

That prompted the response from Diaz and SAPOA, who have claimed passing Prop B would be tantamount to defunding SAPD. Prop B would not directly affect the budget of SAPD in any way, but Diaz argues that defunding would be the ultimate effect.

“Prop. B is not about discipline, it’s about repealing collective bargaining, which is what ensures our police officers have the same say in their pay, benefits, and working conditions that other groups of employees have like firefighters,” Diaz said in the release. “Pop, you should also know that San Antonio Police Officers and the collective bargaining process share widespread support from the citizens and from city leaders. I hope you’re open to hearing both sides of this important issue.”

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Despite the criticism, Popovich reiterated his support for the measure which was put on the ballot by Fix SAPD. The group said their goal is to reform the police department’s misconduct and disciplinary procedures with accountability at the forefront. They also argue the “defund” label for Prop B a scare tactic. Popovich appears to agree.

“Proposition B is not perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction. Police unions need to re-evaluate. The power has become unmanageable,” Popovich said “Accountability is really the basis of it. Mr. Diaz’s comments I’m sure are well-meant. And it’s exactly what I would expect him to say considering his perspective, but police unions need to stand down a bit and figure out a more equitable outcome of various aspects of policing.”

The KSAT Explains team did a full episode on what Proposition B means for the city, the union and citizens. You can watch the full episode below.

About the Author:

RJ Marquez is co-host of KSAT News Now and reports for Good Morning San Antonio. He's been at KSAT since 2010 and covered a variety of stories and events across the San Antonio area. He also covers the Spurs for on-air and digital platforms, including his Spurs newsletter. RJ has reported stories for KSAT Explains.