SAPD Tattoo Policy

SAPD Tattoo Ban

Does the Chief’s SAPD police tattoo ban help or hurt?

In 2014, Chief McManus banned San Antonio Police Officers from having visible tattoos. Officers with arm tattoos were allowed to wear sleeves to cover them, but hand or neck tattoos that could not be covered, had to be removed at the officer’s expense.

At the time it went into effect, the tattoo ban affected nearly 12% of the police force and impacted recruitment. While the Chief’s visible tattoo ban policy was similar to tattoo bans in Dallas and Houston, it differed greatly from Austin’s policy, which allows visible tattoos as long as they’re not offensive. Since the Chief’s ban went into effect there have been some complaints from officers with tattoos, while other officers are ok with the ban.

Many cities around the country have tattoo policies similar to Austin’s because they recognize that tattoos are more common nowadays among young people, the key target demographic for department recruiting, and with military veterans trying to enter a career in law enforcement.  In July of this year, the Chief revised his 2014 ban, allowing officers with visible tattoos on their arms to wear short sleeves, but this only applies to four months of the year.

With SAPD already facing recruitment challenges, high retirements, and high attrition rates among cadets at the academy, the San Antonio Police Officers Association wants to know:

  • Does the Chief’s policy help or hurt recruitment?
  • Is it in line with the times and with other departments around the country?
  • Does the policy send a message of inclusion and acceptance?


SAPOA Christmas Dance 2018

SAPOA Christmas Dance 2018 Flyer

Please join the San Antonio Police Officers’ Association for food, music, and fun! The SAPOA Christmas Dance will take place on Saturday, December 15, 2018 at the Alzafar Shrine, located at 901 N. Loop 1604 E., San Antonio, Texas, 78232.

Doors will open at 6 PM and dinner will be served at 6:15-7:30 PM. Ticket includes dinner and drinks and all members, current or retired, are invited to attend.

Music will be provided by Finding Friday, Ram Herrera and the Outlaw Band, The Spazmatics, and DJ Chez.

Tickets will be sold until sold out so grab them as soon as possible. We’ll see you in December!


SAPOA Endorses Senator Ted Cruz For Re-Election


SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Police Officers Association (SAPOA) today endorsed U.S. Senator Ted Cruz for re-election. SAPOA represents police officers and their families, advocating for legislation, benefits, and working conditions for San Antonio’s police officers.

“We are proud to endorse Senator Ted Cruz,” said Detective Michael Helle, President of the San Antonio Police Officers Association. “He is the only candidate in this race who is truly committed to law enforcement. He understands the important and dangerous work our officers do daily. Senator Cruz has a strong record of supporting law enforcement and has proven that he has our backs ––we need him to continue representing our great state.”

While in office, Senator Ted Cruz introduced the “Back the Blue Act” which made it a federal crime to kill (or attempt to kill) anyone in law enforcement. Senator Cruz also hosted a “Back the Blue” law enforcement appreciation event last spring for the colleagues and families of fallen police officers.

On the other side, Congressman Beto O’Rourke has become increasingly hostile towards police officers and their families, most recently referring to police officers as “the new Jim Crow.” While in Congress, Rep. O’Rourke has voted for severely reducing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement budget and he has voted for a bill that prevented funds for crucial law enforcement supplies such as body armor, night vision, and other gear. This is not the kind of representation we want for the law enforcement of our great state.

Download Press Release

DHS Report Contradicts Chief’s Statements on Human Smuggling Case

DHS Report Contradicts Chief McManus Statement

Mike Helle
Email:   Tel: 210.822.4428


DHS Report Contradicts Chief’s Statements on Human Smuggling Case

Already under investigation by the Attorney General, DHS report raises more questions about Chief’s actions in 2017 human smuggling case.

(San Antonio, TX, June 15, 2018) – A U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Investigative Report states that Chief McManus ignored a federal agent’s request for involvement in a December 2017 human smuggling investigation. The Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) report shows that on December 23, 2017, the on-duty HSI Agent received notification from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that SAPD had encountered 12 suspected undocumented aliens in the rear of a tractor-trailer. After speaking by phone with an SAPD officer on scene, the HSI Agent made preparations to have the 12 suspects transported to the HSI Office. While en route to the scene, the HSI Agent was informed by SAPD that the suspects would be taken to SAPD HQ. The HSI Agent requested that the suspects be instead transported to the HSI Office and the on-scene SAPD Officer agreed. Upon arriving on-scene, the HSI Agent was advised that Chief McManus wanted to speak with him in private. The Chief informed the HSI Agent that SAPD would be taking the case under the state smuggling statute. The HSI Agent offered to help with the investigation but was told “No” by the Chief because he did not want the HSI Agents appearance and badge to “scare people.”

The HSI Agent then departed the scene and returned to SAPD HQ to await the suspects. After their arrival, the HSI Agent offered to help interview the suspects as SAPD only had one detective on duty that could speak Spanish. His request to assist was ignored. At this point, an HSI Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge called the agent and said that if SAPD did not require any assistance from him that he should depart. When the HSI Agent told an SAPD sergeant that he should contact ICE to have the suspects transported to the HSI Office to interview them and determine their immigration status, the sergeant showed the agent a text that was allegedly from Chief McManus ordering him to release all of them. (“Report states federal agent’s offer to help during smuggling investigation was ignored,”, 06/12/18). The report concludes that the SAPD Officer told the HSI Agent that he had no choice but to follow the Chief’s orders. At approximately 4:30 p.m. the Officer contacted the HSI Agent to advise him that the suspects “were in fact released from SAPD custody and did not elaborate on their whereabouts.”

This DHS report directly contradicts the Chief’s public statements in January, in which he said federal agents could have arrested the immigrants after detectives finished their investigation and “the HSI agent was present at SAPD headquarters and was provided access to the 12 individuals. At no time did SAPD restrict or prevent the HSI agent from taking custody of the individuals.” This is not true according to the report, which clearly states the HSI Agent was not allowed access to the suspects. In a statement ICE said, “HSI did offer up its assistance and San Antonio Police Department declined to take our assistance, instead the chief elected to take the case.” (“Deadly smuggling case changed police policy,” Express-News, 06/12/18.)

“This is a damning report from Homeland Security,” said Mike Helle, president of SAPOA, “It shows that the Chief broke with standard procedure by denying DHS their investigatory role and then released the suspects into our city instead of turning them over to Homeland Security Investigations as is proper.”

Based on this report, SAPOA believes Chief McManus lied when he said, “at no time did SAPD restrict or prevent the HSI agent from taking custody of the individuals,” and we reiterate our demand that Chief McManus be placed on temporary leave or be reassigned as per SAPD policy (SAPD General Manual, Procedure 908 – Mandatory Reassignment).

View DHS Report


HSI Report on Dec. 23 Smuggling Incident by Maritza Nunez on Scribd

# # #

Chief McManus’s Double Standard

San Antonio Police Department Chief of Police William McManus under investigation

He’s under investigation and still working –
Any other Officer would be on leave or reassigned.

(San Antonio, TX, June 4, 2018) – SAPD General Manual, Procedure 908 – Mandatory Reassignment establishes a process for the “temporary leave or reassignment” of an officer who is “charged with a criminal offense or is under criminal investigation based on an allegation.” As confirmed in a letter from the Texas Attorney General’s Office dated May 25, 2018, Police Chief William McManus is currently under investigation for possible violation of state immigration law (SB 4).

On December 12, 2017, Chief McManus released 12 undocumented immigrants who had been apprehended in a case of human trafficking or human smuggling without proper investigation, a possible violation of the state’s “Sanctuary Cities Ban.” For this reason, the Attorney General’s Office launched an investigation and ordered that relevant City Departments and Officials “preserve” all documentation related to the incident. That investigation is ongoing, yet neither Mayor Nirenberg nor City Manager Sculley has asked that the Chief be placed on temporary leave or reassigned as per SAPD policy.

“By not adhering to official policy, the Chief’s telling both his fellow officers and the community, ‘do as I say, not as I do.’ He’s saying the rules don’t apply to him – that there’s one standard for people like him and another for the rest of us,” said Mike Helle, president of the San Antonio Police Officer’s Association. “This is a terrible message to send to officers under his command, but it’s also a particularly bad one to send during a time when people in minority communities sometimes feel that they are treated by a different standard. As police officers work to build bonds of trust with those in minority communities, the Chief’s actions undermine our efforts.”

Nobody is above the law, and the San Antonio Police Officers Association is calling on Mayor Nirenberg and City Manager Sculley to follow the law, not politics, and demand that Chief McManus be placed on temporary leave or be reassigned as per SAPD policy. This is about the credibility of the SAPD, but it’s also about the credibility of Mayor Nirenberg, who in a March 28, 2018 memo to the City’s Charter Review Commission stated: “I have stated many times that the City of San Antonio should be the ‘gold standard’ of ethics in governance…” If Mayor Nirenberg truly believes that then we shouldn’t have one standard for political elites and another for the rest of us. When it comes to the law, the Police Chief should be treated no differently than the “cop on the beat.”

View PDF of “The Chief’s Double Standard” ATTORNEY GENERAL LETTER (May 25, 2018) SAPD GENERAL MANUAL (Procedure 908)

Contact: Mike Helle