Wednesday, December 27, 2006

SAPD ready to put "year of police disgrace" behind them

Officials at the San Antonio Police Department are probably ready to put 2006 behind them, to judge by Dave Maass' report in the San Antonio Current providing a "year-end summary of the SAPD’s misfortunes." Maass describes a litany of abuses and mismanagement that the new chief Bill McManus must try to clean up. Certainly the year didn't get off to a great start:
This spring, the phrase on the tip of every beat reporter’s pen was “use of force.” Between February and March, a string of officer-involved shooting went down, six in 13 days, leaving three civilians dead. In every case, the top brass stood by their men. [Former Chief Albert] Ortiz had set up a police-shooting review team, but 10 months later, SAPD are still trigger happy, most recently busting a cap in the head of an innocent young black man in broad daylight. The biggest bullet-related embarrassment of the year was the $24,500 settlement with a guy who was shot in the leg when a cop dropped his firearm in the crapper.
Things didn't improve from there, Maass reports, describing 2006 as a "year of police disgrace." Chief McManus' first major tuff on crime initiative was criticized for exacerbating Bexar County's jail overcrowding problems with little public safety benefit. Maass recounted that:
McManus assembled a special “Crime Response Unit,” a super-force of more than 40 officers to clean the streets. In two months, the Princess Bride-style brute squad hauled in nearly 1,900 criminals. However, almost 75 percent were misdemeanants and dumped into an already brimming jail population. This lead County Commish Tommy Adkisson, master of the colorful soundbite, to use the unforgettable P-word: “I’m not saying don’t arrest people ... But let’s not load up the jail with the plankton of the judicial system either.”
Other SAPD difficulties included several incidents of serious officer misconduct. E.g.,
In 2006 a cop was convicted of raping a woman he’d pulled over for a sobriety test, and another was convicted of fondling several nurses. The worst of the worst, though, was the cop who brutally raped a transvestite prostitute. The Feds will pursue life imprisonment when he’s sentenced in January. ...

And then there’s the uncategorizable embarrassments, such as the detective who allegedly shoved Justice of the Peace Albert McKnight; the cops who were busted on federal drug charges; the Internal Affairs officer who was arrested for scratching the hell out of her dentist husband. Weapons, a badge, and a laptop were stolen from a visiting out-of-state SWAT team’s rental car and then-deputy chief Rudy Gonzales’s own cruiser was burgled in April. The proverbial cake was taken by traffic officer Israel Butler (already under investigation for reporting telephone death threats that the SAPD believes he called in himself) who created a huge administrative mess by completely fabricating a shooting.
McManus also must mop up botched attempts to digitize crime records that resulted in many records lost or destroyed and wasted nearly a million dollars. Taken as a whole, it's quite a litany. Read the rest of Maass' report.

Here's hoping things improve for SAPD in 2007.


Anonymous said...

Wow, that article wasn't biased at all was it?

How is it that the SAPD is at fault because a cop's car was broken into?

If you want to call police trigger happy, please take the time to view this site and maybe you will understand why they can't take chances.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Biased, perhaps, but there was a lot of information in it I hadn't seen before.

Anonymous said...


So the police are a bunch of trigger happy loose cannons but the bad guys have nothing to fear from them?

Got it.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"So the police are a bunch of trigger happy loose cannons but the bad guys have nothing to fear from them?"

Interesting you should say that. Actually see Underenforcement - Prof. Sasha Natapoff argues that underenforcement is "not necessarily an alternative to overenforcement, but is often its corollary." Underenforcement of the law, or as you put it, the "bad guys hav[ing] nothing to fear," may actually have a symbiotic relationship with certain types of police excesses.

If that's true, then your sarcasm may actually hit on a valid point, anonymous, if clearly by accident.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if our friend is as offended when a DA uses the phrase "trigger happy" to describe police?