January 26, 2022

Statement on Sheriff Salazar’s announcement on Citizens Advisory Board

This is a step in the right direction- but should by no means be considered the best solution. We can still do better.


ACT 4 SA believes in alternative solutions to policing. The size and scope of law enforcement in our community and across America has been too large for too long. We also believe in employers taking care of their employees. When an employee works a difficult, stressful job for long hours, but still struggles financially, it can lead to that employee being irritable, and even violent to both inmates, family, and other employees. 

Frankly, $30,000 annually is not enough for someone to support a family no matter what type of employment it is. Our City or County cannot achieve accountable and compassionate law enforcement if it does not make sure to take care of those employees with great benefits, pay, and clear and transparent rules for discipline. At the same time, this does not excuse unjust aggression by anyone who has taken an oath to protect their community. This part of the agreement has to go hand-in-hand with full transparency, accountability, and strong discipline.

We are glad the community’s outcry over the past year against outside arbitrators using subjective opinions to bring back any officer, whether that’s police or sheriff’s deputies, has brought change to discussions surrounding collective bargaining. 

The Civil Service Commission has been an option for appeal to a termination or suspension. Unfortunately, we know that law enforcement has sided with arbitrators who do not represent our community because they have a higher chance of getting their job back even after the most egregious misconduct. We as the community deserve a say in who serves us and our loved ones. 

A civilian review board for county law enforcement has long been overdue, but we need to be wary of the fact that this board closely mirrors one we have at the city level for SAPD which Rice University named the worst civilian oversight system out of the 5 major Texas cities in 2020. That is because this advisory board only has basic review powers, and not auditor or monitor responsibilities like other cities. That means that the board is not able to give policy recommendations nor run independent investigations. It should also be made clear that the board can provide a recommendation on discipline, but does not  make any decisions itself. Finally, the board falls under the collective bargaining agreement, meaning it is not truly independent from the sway of the deputies association. 

This is a step in the right direction- but should by no means be considered the best solution. We can still do better.

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Ananda Tomas

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