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San Antonio police union boss calls city, McManus claims about ‘bad cops’ “false and dangerous rhetoric”

FILE: A San Antonio police cruiser parked at a crime scene on Lombrano Street on March 14, 2020. Photo: KTSA/Dennis Foley

BEXAR COUNTY, Tex. (KTSA News) — The San Antonio Police Officers’ Association sent a letter to San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg Tuesday refuting statements from the city saying the union was the reason “bad cops” are kept employed by the San Antonio Police Department.

San Antonio Police Chief William McManus had stated multiple times that he wished to have some rules in the city’s contract with the police union he said were responsible for making it difficult to fire police officers for misconduct.

Union president Michael Helle disputed that and similar claims in his letter.

Helle said claims that “two-thirds” of fired officers are being returned to duty after arbitration is not true.  He said arbitrators have only ruled in favor of an officer 43 percent of the time.

The union boss went further saying, “[I]n the vast majority of cases, the will of Chief McManus is carried out 82% of the time. Of the 71 cases reviewed during a 10-year period by the Express-News in a June 19, 2020 article, it showed that the Chief himself brought back 20 fired officers, those firings were upheld in 13 cases, and that 14 fired officers either resigned, retired, or were medically discharged. This is a total of 47 officers out of 57 (14 cases are still pending) meaning 82% of cases were decided in the City’s or Chief’s favor.”

Helle continued by saying while it is the union’s job to represent its members in contract negotiations and enforce the contract, it is “not the union’s job to protect members from the consequences of illegal or wrongful conduct.”

He wrote that there are no such laws, including those specifically mentioned by the police chief in the past, that suggest collective bargaining agreements protect illegal conduct by an officer.

The union president finished the letter by calling the statements “false and dangerous rhetoric” only intended to weaken public confidence and the image of police officers in the city.

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