Westwood Square leader is hopeful grant awarded to SAPD will help improve community relations

Feds award $6.25 million to San Antonio to help pay for 50 new police officer positions

SAN ANTONIO – Neighbors in Westwood Square are hopeful that a new federal grant will help the San Antonio Police Department connect with their community.

As part of KSAT’s Know My Neighborhood project, residents in the West San Antonio community shared how they’ve felt forgotten by police.

Neighbors there are friendly with each other.

“We’re pretty united, you know,” said Velma Peña, president of Westwood Square’s neighborhood association. “They like getting involved in different things with different organizations.”

When it comes to crime, Peña said besides a SAFFE officer -- the neighborhood doesn’t really trust police.

“They’re afraid to call the police because of retaliation,” Peña said.

She wants that to change.

Over the weekend, the city announced that the Department of Justice is giving SAPD $6.25 million to help with community policing efforts throughout the city.

Police Chief William McManus said the grant will help reduce response times to calls and give officers more time to connect with the community.

“They can work with the neighborhood,” McManus said. “More time to work with neighborhood associations and ensure ways to work on the problems in their neighborhood.”

KSAT 12 News took Peña’s concern straight to McManus, asking him how the grant money is going to help build trust in communities.

“We always get questions like, ‘Well, how are you going to build trust? How are you going to do this?’” McManus said. “‘How are you going to work your way into the communities and bridge that gap?’ What we don’t talk about is the gap that we have bridged to the majority of this community is strongly in support of this police department.”

McManus admits that level of trust can be improved.

“Is it 100%? No,” he said. “Will ever be 100%? No. But what is 100%, right?”

“If it’s something that the community is asking for or is needed and we haven’t seen it, then, then we should have some type of a meeting,” Peña said.

Peña said she is planning a community meeting with the neighborhood’s assigned SAFFE officer.

About the Authors

Daniela Ibarra joined the KSAT News team in July 2023. This isn’t her first time in the KSAT newsroom– the San Antonio native spent the summer of 2017 as an intern. Daniela is a proud Mean Green alum, earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of North Texas.

Gavin Nesbitt is a photojournalist and video editor who joined KSAT in September 2021. He has traveled across the great state of Texas to film, conduct interviews and edit many major news stories, including the White Settlement church shooting, Hurricane Hanna, 2020 presidential campaigns, Texas border coverage and the Spurs.

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