Tuesday, November 03, 2020

San Antonio to #txlege: Fix the 180-day rule, stop arbitrators from overturning police firings, and make police-disciplinary records public

The San Antonio City Council added some police-reform-oriented items to the Alamo City's 2021 legislative agenda, reported the Express News' Joshua Fechter. Here are some of the items approved by the mayor and council:

  • Change the 180 day rule to prohibit discipline 180 days after it's been discovered rather than when it occurred. This rule ended up prohibiting the department from firing a San Antonio officer who fed a literal "shit sandwich" to a homeless man.
  • Make all disciplinary records for officers public, just like at the Sheriff and in non-civil service cities.
  • Prevent "arbitrators from weighing in on officers’ discipline. Since 2010, arbitrators have returned 10 officers to the force after McManus fired them on misconduct grounds."
  • Further, "San Antonio officials plan to oppose any measure that would prevent the city from determining how much it spends on police."

Despite cities being the ones charged with enforcing discipline on wayward officers, in Texas they haven't aggressively fought the police unions at the legislature over Ch. 143 of the Local Government Code (police and fire civil service) since the late '80s/early '90s. That left reformers on an island with few allies, perhaps explaining why, despite the existence of a robust criminal-justice reform movement, few police-reform measures have passed at the Texas Legislature in the 21st century.

Maybe that will begin to change if cities start to put legislative muscle behind police-reform efforts. It's no cure all, but also, as my father likes to say, it's better than a sharp stick in the eye.

Here's hoping other Texas cities follow suit.


Gunny Thompson said...

From Unfiltered and Uncensored Minds of Independent Thinkers of the 3d Grade Dropout Section:

In responding to the current blog on matters of police enforcement policies. The Texas Legislators were without authority to create 1269m, created in 1947, (now 143)which in-effect created a unconstitutional fourth form of government.

In non-administrative matters a department is prohibited from determines whether a peace office violated the rights of citizens. Texas Criminal Code of Procedures has in place a Court of Inquiry that has the authority to determine facts of the matter.

It is the opinion of this writer, that the legislation was created to protect the "Slave Catchers," and was a form of absolute immunity which was created by unelected judges out of whole cloth, which violates the Forth Amendment Equal Protection Clause.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Too bad the courts haven't agreed with you, GT. I'm sure the city attorney in San Antonio thinks so, too. :)

Gunny Thompson said...

Grits, your opinions are as always respected and appreciated. While the courts have not agreed to our position, the struggle to overturn their decisions is not over until the fat lady sings and, at this time, she has not begun to tune up.

LC in Texas said...

Courts would not be backed up if common law was followed. Time allows for corruption. Declaration of Independence calls for a speedy trial.