San Antonio Police Union Rejects Reforms Unless They Get Paid More

San Antonio PD has one of the least accountable contracts in the country and were already set for a 14 percent raise.


Want reform? Pony up
Robert Kaufmann/FEMA/Wikimedia Commons

The San Antonio Police Department's union has negotiated a new contract, set to be voted on by city officials, which will contain a 14 percent pay raise and none of the reforms proposed by the city's mayor. But, according to the San Antonio News-Express, the union would have been willing to accept some of the proposals — which consisted of some very basic measures meant to ensure greater accountability — if the department-wide pay increase were substantially increased.

Among the proposed reforms were the end of the current practice which prevents police supervisors from using evidence of officer misconduct that is more than two years old as a consideration when deciding on how to discipline officers for more recent instances of bad behavior. It seems past incidents of conduct unbecoming of an officer would be relevant in determining whether senior police officials should demote or fire a rogue cop, but such is the nature of public sector collective bargaining — if you want basic and reasonable rules promoting accountability, taxpayers have to pay the price.

One activist quoted by ThinkProgess described the San Antonio PD's position as "essentially extortion," while another referred to it as "provision ransom."

Earlier this year, the Black Lives Matter-affiliated project Check the Police obtained the police union contracts of 81 of the U.S.'s 100 largest cities through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and published them on its website. Of the six factors which make it hardest to hold officers accountable for misconduct, San Antonio's union contract checked all six boxes, including allowing officers to delay interrogations and giving them more access to information than their accusers are entitled to.

San Antonio's police union's refusal to allow even basic reforms (unless they're paid significantly more) is in keeping with trends in Boston, Seattle, Chicago, and Cincinnatti. In each of those cities, the police unions have demanded the public "pony up" if they want cops to wear body cameras or accept modest adjustments meant to provide greater transparency and accountability in policing.