Long-awaited police substation in District 3 part of 2022 bond program draft

Exact location still undetermined for $19M project; SAPD says substation will require additional personnel

SAN ANTONIO – The South Side could get a new San Antonio Police Department substation as part of the 2022 bond program, which SAPD has indicated would also mean expanding the department.

Covering the Southeast corner of the city, District 3 has no police substation. Instead, a city map shows that officers from the East and South substations serve the area, using Interstate 37 as a dividing line.

That could change in the next few years, as the current project list for the 2022 bond program includes $19 million for a new substation in the district.

The city council had already approved $250,000 for a “feasibility study and preliminary design work for a police substation in District 3 in preparation for the 2022 Bond Program” as part of the FY 2022 budget.

District 3 does not currently have a substation within it. Instead, officers from the East and South substations split coverage of the district, using I-37 as the dividing line.

Bringing a substation to the district was a longtime goal of former councilwoman Rebecca Viagran, who was replaced by her sister, Phyllis, earlier this year after she reached her term limit.

The new councilwoman is excited, though, that that dream may finally come to fruition.

“So what that means is we don’t have our own property crime team. We don’t have our own SAFFE officers. We’re even pulling from Central to cover some of the district’s SAFFE officers,” Viagran said of her district’s current police coverage. “So what this means is we’re going to be able to distribute the services more equitably throughout the southern sector.”

Viagran’s chief of staff said they were generally looking at a location between the East and South substations. A Public Works spokeswoman told KSAT that no potential sites have been identified.

The substation’s construction isn’t a guarantee, either. The list of bond projects won’t be final until city council approves it, and that will only happen after the five community advisory committees make their recommendations.

Even then, the six individual areas of the bond program will have to be approved by voters in the May 2022 election.

Potentially complicating the substation’s chances are the implications the project carries. A new substation would require personnel to staff it, and a statement from the SAPD Public Information Office indicates that would likely mean growing the department.

The department’s full emailed statement reads:

“The City has begun the process of soliciting public input on the projects and programs to be included in the upcoming bond election. Should the community identify a police substation as a project to be included, and the bond subsequently approved by voters, the Department would need additional personnel to staff that facility.

As the city continues to grow, additional resources, including more personnel and facilities, will allow the Department to continue to offer the same level of service to the community.”

Police funding has become a hot-button issue both nationally and in San Antonio. Due to a new state law meant to prohibit the “defunding” of police, it’s now difficult for Texas cities to ever cut funding their police departments, which means any annual growth of a department’s budget is likely a permanent one.

District 2 Councilman Jalen McKee-Rodriguez tried unsuccessfully during the council’s budget vote to limit the growth of the department’s budget.

The community advisory committee reviewing the facilities portion of the bond program is scheduled to meet for the first time on Thursday, Nov. 4 at 6pm.

All of the committee hearings are open to the public. You can find the full calendar HERE.

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About the Authors:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.

Luis Cienfuegos is a photographer at KSAT 12.