SAN ANTONIO “There have been a number of high-profile violent crimes in the past few weeks.
San Antonio Police Chief William McManus joined Leading SA to discuss why this is happening and the department’s response.
“Of course, it seems that crime is out of control. But if these four events are excluded, violent crime actually fell by 14%. So those skirmishes… weren’t random either. They were targeted,” Chief McManus said.
With crime rates reportedly on the decline, McManus attributed his speculation to a series of recent violent crimes involving firearms.
“My answer will be purely speculative and my opinion of what is going on. But I, I think there are people today who run in gangs and they don’t care or care who they hurt or why they hurt. And, unfortunately, the recklessness with which they go in these drive-by shootouts, and when they’re chasing someone for whatever reason, they don’t give a damn if anyone else gets hurt. And that’s the sad reality of what happens out there when you have retribution from these gangs,” Chief McManus said.
Chief McManus said at a press conference last week that there are different elements that make up the criminal justice system.
He said what happens after an arrest gets out of the department’s control, and how in many cases they arrest people already on bail.
“If somebody is arrested, they are taken to the prosecutor’s office, checked, and then they are brought before the magistrate for bail hearing… And most people post bail, and they go out into the streets again, and many times they commit crimes there again. And quite often we arrest people who are already out of bail or on probation and they get new bail. So it’s disappointing in that sense,” Chief McManus said.
McManus shared the details of the study, emphasizing the need for accountability.
“If people who commit crimes understand that there is no real responsibility or consequences for what they do there, they are likely, and this study is more likely, to commit crime again. There must be accountability. They must understand that something will surely happen to them as a result of the crime they have committed. And I’m not just talking about violent crime, but property crime,” McManus said.
The chief said the number of arrests has been increasing year on year and preliminary research has shown a need for more officers in the community as the population continues to grow.
McManus then spoke about the specific benefits of hiring more officers to grow with the community.
“Half done research that says we need 360 new officers on patrol. And I say just patrol. Those extra 360 patrol officers would give us more time, more free time to spend with the community, to spend on problem solving, to spend with community groups, unlike what we have now. Right now we have a ratio of 40%, 60%, 40% off talk time, discretionary time, 60% talk time. We want to reverse this so that officers take their time from call to call and don’t spend as much time as they should or could with a person who has a problem in their area,” Chief McManus said.
In terms of recruitment, SAPD is in an excellent position as they can complete 4 to 5 classes per year to the limit.
However, McManus explained how the next steps to add at least 360 officers to the force will depend on our elected officials.
“This still needs to be approved by the council. So let’s see what happens this fiscal season,” Chief McManus said.
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