SAN ANTONIO – A local activist group has put out a searchable dashboard of San Antonio Police Department suspension and arbitration information dating back more than a decade.
The information in ACT 4 SA’s dashboard is compiled from open record requests, SAPD’s own website, and media reports and dates from 2010 until last summer, ACT 4 SA Executive Director Ananda Tomas said. The dashboard does not contain the original documents.
“This is pretty comprehensive for the past 12 years,” Tomas said. “I’m not going to say there’s not a possibility that we might be missing a document or a case here or there. But this is what we’ve been able to receive.”
With the exception of simple, attendance-based suspensions, the dashboard includes everything from one-day to indefinite suspensions, which are tantamount to firing. So the alleged conduct in the records ranges from domestic violence and other criminal acts, down to hitting a light pole while driving an SAPD vehicle.
The dashboard also shows if an officer appealed a suspension and its most recent outcome.
“We’ve been hearing from a lot of community that they want to know who’s patrolling their streets,” Tomas said. “They might have a, you know, a brush-in with an officer that they believe acted, you know, out of order, in a disorderly way. And they want to see if there’s a history, right, for this officer as they’re making their case or their complaints. Or this is something that can be used for civil cases by lawyers.”
Tomas said the dashboard also means other departments won’t have the excuse of not knowing their new hire had a history of misconduct at SAPD.
In December, a fired SAPD officer who infamously gave a homeless man a feces sandwich, was “released” from his job in the Floresville Police Department after the city received a flood of emails about his position with the department.
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The dashboard has been a seven-month project funded by a grant from the Urban Institute and Microsoft Justice Reform Initiative, Tomas said. A former member of Fix SAPD - the group she helped lead in a 2021 attempt to eliminate the police union’s collective bargaining power - had been working on it for about a year before.
The dashboard will be updated a few times a year, Tomas said, but she has a grander vision of it turning it into a statewide dashboard.
“So, adding other departments like our Bexar County sheriffs, or Austin Police Department, or El Paso Police Department, so it can be a tool for organizers and community members all across Texas,” Tomas said.
However, she doesn’t expect the next department to be added in for several months.
San Antonio Police Officers’ Association President Danny Diaz told KSAT Thursday he was out of the state and unable to do an interview.
KSAT also contacted his predecessor as head of the police union, retired Detective Mike Helle, who emailed the following statement:
“In reviewing the Act4SA latest edition meant to tarnish the police by displaying public records that are already public through the City Human Resources Department, it clearly shows that SAPD does not have the problems they have been insinuating. Through their own research, data shows no systemic racism or excessive force issues. Obviously, their conclusions show minor departmental infractions which are typical in every organization. Additionally, their largest complaint in recent memory were arbitration awards which the data clearly shows is only around 10% for officers being reinstated. This illustrates why their campaign for further police reform through referendum is unwarranted. The citizens need to be educated through facts and not rhetoric.”Mike Helle, SAPOA President 2008-2021
A department spokesperson also provided a statement:
“We cannot comment on the accuracy of the Act 4 SA dashboard. Officer suspensions and arbitrations are public information and SAPD posts this information to the Department’s website monthly in an effort to maintain transparency. This information is readily available to anyone and therefore, anyone can use this information to conduct their own analysis.”SAPD PIO