2017 SAPOA Picnic is Another Success

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The 2017 SAPOA picnic took place on Friday, September 29th, at Comanche Park #2 from 11 AM – 11 PM. As usual, food, drinks, games, and music were provided for all San Antonio police officers and their families.

Current members of city council arrived to show their support for the men and women in blue. Our Blue Cares outreach team was onsite selling SAPD and SAPOA merchandise. Families lined up for barbeque, roasted corn, and ice cream that was served by SAPOA and Blue Cares volunteers and members of the SAPD Explorers. Children were able to rock climb, play video games, and participate in other activities throughout the park.

The family-friendly event occurs every year to show appreciation for the law enforcement officers of San Antonio and retirees. It was a big success and we can’t wait to do it again next year. The San Antonio Police Officers’ Association would like to thank all the sponsors of the 2017 SAPOA picnic.

Good Recruiting Key to Addressing Police Shortage

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Recent news stories have focused on the fact that while our city continues to grow at a record pace, there have also been a growing number of vacancies in police officer positions. The Express-News has reported that the officer to resident ratio has decreased in recent years and is now the sixth worst year for the department in the last 15 years. Mike Helle, president of the San Antonio Police Officer’s Association, notes that San Antonio’s police force is 238 officers short of its authorized strength of 2,407 police officers.

While the proposed 2018 city budget does allocate funding for an additional 40 officers, Helle says that adding more positions will not necessarily solve the problem. He believes that the primary solution lies more in better recruitment strategy. In other words, if the force can’t find the recruits it needs, having money set aside for more officers may not help close the gap. The police department does engage in recruiting, but effective recruiting can be challenging. For one thing, it has to keep pace with retirements, which happen consistently year after year, whether or not the department has had a successful recruiting year or not. Secondly, the police academy is rightfully rigorous, and not everyone who applies to be a police officer can become one. And finally, San Antonio has to compete with police departments in other cities with regard to wages, benefits, bonuses, and quality of life.

What’s needed is a robust recruiting effort. While the city does recruit outside of San Antonio, there is more that can be done. First, good wages and benefits will ensure San Antonio can attract and keep quality officers in our community. Next is stepping up recruiting and doing the kind of effective and comprehensive outreach necessary to ensure that quality men and women from San Antonio and all around the country see our police department as one they want to join and see our city as a great place to live and raise a family. Good recruiting takes time. It may take several years to get to the point we need to be, but making a commitment now to an effective recruiting strategy is a great way to start.

It’s important to note that while there is a police shortage in our city, our men and women in blue are still on the job everyday doing everything they need to do to keep you and your family safe. This upcoming city budget debate will be an ideal time for members of the city council to have a good and honest discussion about police staffing requirements and ways we can fill the existing vacancies to ensure the continued safety of our community.

Help Identify a Human Trafficking Victim

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Female hands in bondage tied up with white rope.

San Antonio is still in shock after the story broke that 10 people died in a horrific human trafficking discovery in July. A total of 38 people were found in the back of a semi-truck with no air conditioning. Eight adults were already dead and two more died from their injuries later at the hospital. Unfortunately, San Antonio is not a stranger to smuggling and trafficking occurrences like this as it is a little more than a two hour drive from the Mexican border.

Human trafficking is the illegal recruitment, transportation, or obtainment of a person for the purpose of forced labor or sexual exploitation. It is a form of modern-day slavery and Texas ranks second in the number of calls placed on human trafficking, right behind California. According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, there were 670 cases reported in 2016 with 2,135 calls related to human trafficking victims and survivors. Most victims are adult females and used for sex trafficking over labor trafficking. In 2016, there were an equal amount of US citizen cases to foreign national cases.

It’s happening all around us and occurs in big cities just as much as it does in our small Texas towns. If you or someone you know might be a victim of human trafficking, you can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. It is a 24/7 service and fully confidential. Another way to stop human trafficking is by learning the indicators of it. Start by asking yourself these questions when you suspect someone is a victim:

  • Can the person come and go as they please?
  • Are they living with their employer?
  • Do they engage in sexual activities, such as prostitution?
  • Do they have signs of physical abuse?
  • Are they fearful and/or disoriented?

 

The San Antonio Police Officers’ Association wants you to remain safe if you witness a victim of human trafficking. Do not try to be a hero and save a victim of abuse. Call 911 immediately.

Fake Cops: We Help You Spot Them

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3 SA Police officers walking in the streets

Police officers around the world are given the power of authority over others in order to protect people, their property, and their community. After they have earned the right to wear the badge, they are given a uniform, a firearm, and the responsibility to serve and protect the citizens of their community. However, there are people who take it upon themselves to impersonate an officer of the law, usually to take advantage of someone. To help spot a police impostor, be aware of the warning signs.

First, it’s important to know why some people impersonate police officers. The reasons vary, but for most it’s to attain a certain sense of power over others. It gives them an authority over people, as well as an easier way to break the law. It can be difficult to see the signs of a fake police officer. With police costumes available year-round and with advanced technology, it is not difficult to impersonate a cop and a badge. By familiarizing yourself with the San Antonio Police Department uniform and badge, impostors can be detected.

SAPD officer pulling over civilian.

When approaching your car or home, a police officer will knock and announce their presence. Watch out if this does not occur, this can be a helpful warning sign. A police officer has a purpose for being at your home so before you answer the door, ask the officer why they’re at your door. The officer will have no problem explaining the reason for their visit. A police officer will always wear a uniform, badge, name tag, and utility belt. In your vehicle, the best way to tell if you’re being pulled over by a police officer is by the vehicle they are driving. They will pull you over using a familiar siren, and if you don’t know what a San Antonio police car looks like, you should take some time and do so. If you’re being pulled over by an older vehicle in bad condition, it is doubtful this is a cop, and you should call the police.

This constant vigilance can be even more critical for those who are more likely to be approached by fake police officers. Police impersonators are more likely to target individuals who look easily fooled, especially young people and the elderly. Even if you don’t fall into one of these groups, make sure to look out for others, helping to make our communities a safer place for all.

When in doubt, always call 911. The San Antonio Police Officers’ Association wants you to continue having a safe summer in San Antonio.

When You See Someone Suspicious

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San Antonio Police officers at the door

We see it all the time on our neighborhood Facebook pages. A neighbor mentions that there’s an unfamiliar, suspicious person walking around the neighborhood. While your neighbor could be wrong and it’s just a neighbor they haven’t seen before, it’s good for people to be vigilant. Putting everyone on high alert to lock up and watch the children extra closely is a good thing, but one thing you should never do is try to handle a suspicious person situation on your own. We want citizens to be aware, but we don’t want them taking it upon themselves to deal with a situation like this. This could lead to a disastrous and unfortunate ending.

Here’s what to do if you notice someone acting suspicious in your neighborhood. First, call local law enforcement. If there is a life threatening emergency, you need to call 911 as soon as possible. Give the most accurate description you can, such as date, time, and location, followed by a brief description of the activity going on. What really helps are physical identifiers of the person you just observed and a possible description of a vehicle if there is one. If the suspicious person has left and you might know where they’ve gone or even the direction they went, reveal that as well. A 911 operator will also ask for your name and contact information.

We highly encourage keeping your neighbors in the loop of suspicious people, but don’t be a hero. Call the police to help you out.