SAN ANTONIO – On September 8, Bexar County Judge Peter Sakai said he was forming a county and city commission to get answers on the friction between the San Antonio Police Department and the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office.
“We will come up with solutions. This is the first step in getting to a resolution. Otherwise, all we’re doing is talking,” Sakai said after his announcement.
A lot of talking has followed that statement at town halls and private meetings, but there has been no resolution so far.
Judge Ron Rangel of 379th Criminal District Court has been a part of those private conversations between elected county leaders. He said the suggestions that the problem is with the bail system and magistrate judges are wrong.
“One of the things that we’re learning is that it really has nothing to do with bail,” Rangel said. “The dollar amounts that the magistrates have been setting to bail out when somebody gets arrested has been equal to or higher than what they’ve ever been.”
In a few weeks, he will make recommendations that he believes could straighten out the issues. Primarily, he says, is opening the lines of communication between the DA and SAPD.
“Those of us within the system have been hearing about the lack of communication between the law enforcement agencies and the district attorney’s office. It’s about time that we focus on that and help them understand how they can find common ground,” Rangel said.
He said it’s crucial for the sake of the families awaiting justice.
Rangel said there are 10,000 cases pending indictment in the DA’s office. Judges are waiting for those cases to reach their courtrooms.
“Our caseloads within the justice system and the district court is the lowest they’ve ever been,” he said, adding that there are less than 400 cases in five of the 10 district courts.
“I’m thinking, within a few weeks, we should have some good recommendations to put forth, good recommendations for folks within the community to feel like things are being done, not just talked about but actual plans that can be implemented to further help keep the community safe,” Rangel said.