We are so proud of our community for sending hundreds of emails, calls and tweets, and participating in numerous testimonies asking Council to be brave and vote down a contract that still misses the mark for so many of us. Our demands dominated the narrative both in public comment and on the dais. We are hopeful this can inform future policy initiatives – whether they be initiated by city council or the community itself.
We are thankful to Councilmembers Jalen McKee-Rodriguez, Teri Castillo, Mario Bravo for their votes against the contract. We had the most votes against a police contract ever yesterday at three votes, showing that we are no longer willing to be strong-armed by SAPOA and blindly sign in contracts that do not meet the highest standards for our community.
Out of the 5 major cities in Texas, San Antonio remains the only one that doesn’t have an independent review board. ACT 4 SA will be exploring every option possible on how to improve our civilian oversight system in the coming years leading up to our next contract negotiations.
The consistent mention by city staff of Chapters 143 and 174 as hindrances to the reforms we are seeking were misleading. While the contract was still under negotiation we could work to amend any barriers to disciplinary record access that would hinder us from having a true independent, investigative civilian review board that we are calling for. Only once the contract was approved would we have to wait another 5 years to address this particular reform through contract negotiations, which is now our reality.
It is clear that we as the community will have some work to do at the state level to truly build the accountable, compassionate, and transparent contract San Antonio deserves to see- one where we finally get a seat at the table. ACT 4 SA is ready to do that work, and we will need the full weight of the community behind us to achieve these needed reforms.
Lastly, we are extremely disappointed in the misleading and out of line comments made by Councilmember Phyllis Viagran. To continue to perpetuate the “defund” farce is harmful to the mission of true police accountability and the lives that are affected by police brutality, and shows a lack of respect for the work done by the community to fulfill this mission. In the future we hope that dialogue between elected officials and the public they represent will remain transparent, compassionate and accountable.