SAN ANTONIO – A major change was announced Monday for the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office as part of the collective bargaining agreement -- no more arbitration, and the deputy discipline and appeals process is changing significantly.
“This is going to revolutionize the way disciplinary cases are handled within the sheriff’s office,” Sheriff Javier Salazar said.
Salazar announced BCSO would be adding a Citizen’s Advisory Action Board, or CAAB, as part of their disciplinary process.
“Citizens appointed by commissioners and Judge (Nelson) Wolff that are going to have the opportunity to hear certain disciplinary cases,” Salazar said.
Act 4 SA has been critical of how San Antonio police have handled discipline. When it comes to this plan for Bexar County deputies, Ananda Tomas, the executive director for ACT 4 SA, shared her initial reaction.
The cases that go before the new board are decided by the sheriff, complainant deputy, or respondent deputy.
The board will then give advice after hearing evidence in the case.
“Ultimately, it’s my decision to make,” Salazar said.
The sheriff can agree or disagree with their recommendations and go from there.
“Should a deputy disagree with my discipline? It’s the way it is now. They can take it to the Civil Service Board,” Salazar said.
That means no more third-party arbitrators.
The revamped Civil Service Board will consist of seven people instead of three who county commissioners and the county judge appoint.
“It’s a big step forward and a breakthrough in terms of having greater accountability of deputies,” Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said.
Salazar said it keeps control over the process local, and the citizens impacted by those decisions get their voices heard.
“They’ve got to live with the consequences of, you know, keeping somebody in a profession that maybe doesn’t need to be anymore,” Salazar said.
Should the civil service board disagree with one of Salazar’s terminations, they have the power to overturn it.
“That part is not going to change. The part that will change is the ability for an out-of-state arbitrator to come in and make that change,” Salazar said.
In his announcement Monday, Salazar mentioned his office would not release body-worn camera footage in 10 days like commissioners asked for last month. Instead, they would need 30 days.
This CBA still needs to be signed off on by county commissioners.
The BCSO announcement comes as talks are still happening between the City of San Antonio and the San Antonio Police Officers Association. One of the big sticking points in that collective bargaining agreement is refining the arbitration process. After 11 months of negotiating, there is still no contract. The next meeting between the city and SAPOA is happening on January 31st.