Police reform — attend Saturday’s listening session!

Has the last several weeks of police-reform protests left you wanting local-level change in San Antonio? Well, now’s your time to speak out.

The San Antonio City Council is holding “listening sessions” to evaluate what should be done to reform the local police department. The final one will be held on Saturday, June 20, from 11:30 a.m., to 1:30 p.m.

If you’d like to speak directly to the city council on Saturday, this will be a virtual town hall held online. Go here for instructions.

If you want to send Council members your written thoughts, go here to submit written comments.

Things you might tell Council and the Mayor.

San Antonio PD has utterly failed at ridding the department of officers who engage in misconduct: The Express-News reports that 70 percent of officers fired by the chief are reinstated by arbitrators.

To understand how broken policing is in San Antonio, one need only consider the case of SAPD Officer Matthew Luckhurst, who thought it would be funny to give a homeless man a “sandwich” with feces between two slices of bread. He fought his termination and won his job back. Now he’s gotten in trouble again, has again been fired, and is once again seeking to force his way back into the department.

Enough is enough! It’s time to close the revolving door and think more deeply about what 21st century policing should look like.

Police departments across America in recent decades have been tasked with solving social problems like addiction, mental illness, and homelessness that cops are ill-prepared to manage. Just Liberty believes it’s time to right-size police budgets and strengthen police accountability mechanisms to keep cops like Officer Luckhurst off the streets for good.

These listening sessions provide an opportunity to let the City Council know what kind of change you want to see in the police department.

  • Stop throwing more and more money at police and instead fund public health and social-service solutions to address addiction, mental illness, and homelessness. Austin passed this budget resolution that has already reduced money for police and budget hearings don’t start til July.
  • Restrict deadly force to situations where suspects pose an “imminent threat.” Texas law authorizes police to use force in too many situations where a suspect doesn’t pose a danger. But San Antonio PD can make its policy more stringent, and it should. Deadly force should only be used as a last resort, and SAPD policies should reflect that. Take a look at what Austin just passed. This could be a model for San Antonio.
  • Strengthen police disciplinary processes. There’s no good reason that 70 percent of officers fired by the chief should be getting back on the force. The system is broken and the one-sided contract with the police union is a big reason why. The SA City Council should not enter into another contract with the union unless it provides the chief a greater ability to fire bad cops and keep them off the force.