Chief McManus Still Under Investigation

Human smuggling in San Antonio

The actions of Police Chief William McManus on December 23, 2017 are still under investigation by the Texas Attorney General. On that night, in possible violation of established procedures and State and Federal law pertaining to suspected human smuggling and trafficking cases, the Chief released twelve undocumented immigrants into the City of San Antonio without properly and thoroughly identifying them.

For several years now, San Antonio Police Officers have been well trained on how to handle and process human smuggling and trafficking cases. SAPD also works with Homeland Security through the Federal Joint Task Force to specifically target and arrest individuals involved in these crimes. On December 23rd, when twelve people were stopped and detained under suspicion of smuggling and being in the country illegally, the Officers on scene began following the law and established procedures. Then, Chief McManus arrived.

When Chief McManus arrived unexpectedly on scene, in civilian clothing and with a lawyer from a non-profit organization, Officers briefed the Chief on the situation and their actions, which included notifying Homeland Security. The Chief immediately changed their orders: they were not to identify the individuals or check their immigration status (as Texas law allows local law enforcement to do) and they were not to involve Homeland Security (as per Joint Task Force procedures).

When an agent from Homeland Security did arrive, the Chief informed him that his assistance was not needed. After transporting the individuals to police headquarters, the Chief allowed the non-profit attorney complete access to them before ever allowing even one of the Special Victims Unit (SVU) detectives to speak to them. The Chief then stated that none of the detainees were to be processed through SAPD databases and ordered them released. At this point, SVU Supervisors were so shocked they requested the order be put in writing.

The twelve detainees were then escorted out of the back of police headquarters and released into the city. Afterwards, the Chief told the media that the case was based on a “fluid situation,” and that “it’s not necessarily how every case will be handled going forward.” SAPOA believes that the Chief’s actions were political, not in line with established State and Federal laws and procedures, and may have risked the safety of the community.

We have called upon Mayor Ron Nirenberg, City Manager Sheryl Sculley, and the City Council to investigate or at least have the Chief answer for his actions that night. Up to now, they have done nothing. Fortunately, the Texas Attorney General launched an investigation in January and has ordered the entire City government to preserve all evidence and present any and all documents, videos, and cellular phone data, regarding the December 23rd incident.

SAPOA will soon be listing all the Department violations that the city manager has stated publicly were not violated. Research for yourself HERE and see how many you can find and share with the public. Here’s a hint: start with Section 200 – Rules and Regulations, 1.01 PURPOSE: The Rules and Regulations officially adopted and set forth in this manual are for the guidance, regulation, and control of the conduct of all members of the Police Department of the City of San Antonio, Texas. These rules are designed to promote efficiency, discipline, and good public relations by setting forth policies governing the conduct and demeanor of every member of the police department, both on- and off-duty.

It’s imperative, for the safety of our Officers and the general public, that everyone, no matter what their rank or political leanings, follow the law.

Stay tuned.

What We Stand For: Why the SAPOA Exists

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Three officers standing

What began as a way to look out for the pay and benefits of police officers and their families, police associations (also known as unions) have evolved to doing much more. The mission of police unions now includes a variety of responsibilities relevant to law enforcement and community service. Bringing awareness to key public safety issues including police staffing, officer safety, and the state of law enforcement resources have taken a major importance in the list of their responsibilities.

At one point in American history, law enforcement officers found themselves working long hours, from six to seven days a week, and facing threats and dangers in the environment that surrounded them. The brutal nature of officers’ job responsibilities presented unique challenges that made the need for police associations to exist so that they could address law enforcement labor issues. Associations were necessary to find other ways to help make working conditions better for officers by establishing criteria for overtime pay, call outs, and officer discipline. Police associations were instrumental in introducing and implementing job protections like the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights of the United States.

Besides advocating for better wages, safer work environments, and reasonable working hours, police associations have also influenced disciplinary standards and procedures for officers. They’ve also established systems of due process for officers to have their discipline reviewed, which has, in turn, helped maintain the rights of officers who come under scrutiny in the conduct of their duty.

While police associations are sometimes criticized for doing their number one duty – protecting police officers and their families – their work benefits the community as a whole. After all, we are all well-served by having police officers who are well-qualified, well-trained, and who have high job satisfaction. The San Antonio Police Officers Association works to protect the rights and benefits of police officers so that they can be in the best position to do their job: protecting you and your family.

Public Opinion Poll


Yesterday, behind closed doors, the majority of City Council gave a $75,000 bonus to City Manager, Sheryl Sculley and increased her salary by $20,000 bringing her total salary to $470,000. They did so without using any formal evaluation process or performance metrics, and despite a series of management failures and scandals on her watch, including a police chief under investigation, the Tricentennial Commission CEO resignation, a police shortage, the Centro San Antonio embezzlement scandal, and suing San Antonio First Responders.

Do you think City Manger Sheryl Sculley deserves a $75,000 bonus? That's what she got in yesterday's closed-door meeting.


Posted by San Antonio Police Officers Association on Friday, January 26, 2018


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Ken Paxton


Getting answers about Police Chief’s actions are vital legal and public safety concerns.


San Antonio, TX – Michael Helle, the president of the San Antonio Police Officers Association (SAPOA) thanked both Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton for their quick and decisive calls for investigation of Police Chief William McManus’ decision on Dec. 23, 2017 to release twelve (12) undocumented immigrants in a case of human trafficking or human smuggling without proper investigation.

“Police Chief McManus may very well have put our City at risk by releasing, without properly and thoroughly identifying these twelve unknown, undocumented people into the community. I’m grateful that the Lt. Governor and the Attorney General have stepped in to investigate this case,” said Michael Helle.

On January 10, 2018, Lt. Governor Patrick asked Attorney General Paxton to “ensure San Antonio Police Department is in compliance with the law,” noting the Chief’s actions could be in direct violation of Senate Bill 4 and thereby constitute a threat to the safety of citizens and law enforcement. Senate Bill 4 gives local law enforcement the right to question the immigration status of people they detain or arrest and penalizes local government officials who do not cooperate with federal immigration officials.

On the same day, Attorney General Paxton sent a letter to Mayor Nirenberg, Police Chief McManus, City Manager Sculley, and the entire City Council in which he indicated that he would be investigating complaints his office has received regarding possible violations of Senate Bill 4. In the letter, the Attorney General directs City officials to “affirmatively preserve all relevant materials.” The Attorney general’s letter warned City officials of an “imminent, statutorily-mandated investigation.”

“We look forward to the Attorney General’s investigation and offer the support of our organization,” said Helle. “Nothing is more important in ensuring the safety of police officers and the community than seeing that our local officials observe and follow the law and all law enforcement procedures and protocols.”


View Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s Letter View Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton’s Letter

Statement From Mike Helle, January 19, 2018

Helle Lemon


City Manager has failed police officers and the people of San Antonio.


San Antonio, TX – Michael Helle, president of the San Antonio Police Officers Association (SAPOA) said today that the police shortage facing San Antonio was caused by and is being made worse by the negligence and mismanagement of City Manager Sheryl Sculley.

“Sheryl Sculley has failed police officers and the people of San Antonio by helping create a police shortage that threatens public safety,” said Michael Helle. “Her only answer is to authorize 40 new positions, but what good does it do to add more authorized strength if we can’t hire? The City Manager has conceded there’s a shortage saying, ‘I know we need more [officers],[1]’ but she’s done nothing to help. Instead she’s relied on bureaucratic double speak and accounting gimmicks to give the impression that progress is being made.”


Here are the facts:


  • The number of officers is not keeping pace with the City’s growth.[2]
  • There are currently 236 police officer vacancies (authorized strength: 2,443; actual officers [of all ranks] on entire SAPD: 2,207).
  • Between 2014 and 2016, the City Manager cancelled SAPD academy cadet classes while knowing well in advance that an unusually large wave of retirements were going to hit SAPD, which resulted in a net loss of more than 100 officers.
  • The officer-resident ratio has decreased in recent years: there are now approximately just over 15 officers for every 10,000 residents, the 6th worst year for the department in 15 years.*
  • It could take up to 6 years or more to reach just the current number of allocated positions.


The City Manager’s failure to address the root causes of the shortage has significant implications, especially with regard to response times.

“Instead of putting more resources into strategies to fill the gap, like improving our recruitment efforts and adding cadet academy classes, she’s cancelled cadet classes and wasted valuable tax dollars on things like a frivolous lawsuit against First Responders,” said Helle. “It’s amazing to think that in light of this crisis, City Council is thinking about giving her a raise and a bonus.”


City Manager Offers No Viable Solutions

The City Manager authorized 40 new positions, but this does nothing to fill the gap if SAPD cannot find quality recruits who can get through the academy. The City Manager also claims that community policing is one big way to fill the void, even going so far as saying, ‘…when the officers are called, it’s too late. We should be doing things before a crime is committed.’ [3] While it is important that citizens be vigilant, they should not be expected to fight crime. That is the job of law enforcement, and the City Manager should not impose that responsibility on citizens simply because she has failed to give SAPD the officers it needs to keep San Antonio safe.

The City manager and City Council need to start by being honest with the citizens of San Antonio and then make basic needs such as infrastructure and public safety their number one priority in all future budgeting, just as the majority of the citizens have been demanding.


Focus On Recruitment

To get out of this hole, the City needs to put more resources towards recruitment efforts and incentive packages. Retirements happen every year and many cadets are not able to pass the stringent police academy requirements. The academy currently has a 30% attrition rate for cadets. This means that “despite the new positions, there might not be any more boots on the ground.”[4]

This is why recruitment of quality candidates is essential. It’s important that new recruits have clean records, so we should invest in serious mentoring and recruitment as early as high school. We also need to ensure that SAPD is viewed favorably as a career path in terms of pay, benefits, incentives, and job satisfaction. It is important that the City invest more resources into these efforts because that is the most important way that we will find the new recruits that can graduate from the police academy and begin their public safety career.

* To put this in better perspective, as per 2015 UCR (Government Data) at the same time that SAPD sits at 15 officers per 10,000 residents (“Per Capita”) the average per capita of the top 33 departments servicing populations of 500,000 or more was 23.7. What this means is that just for SAPD to be average size, the SAPD should be staffed at over 3,400 filled positions. While there is no concrete rule nationally dictating “per-capita” levels, two of the main factors that are commonly considered are, “do you have a growing population?” San Antonio is growing at over 20,000 residents per year, and “do you have a noticeable ongoing growth rate in CRIME,” which we all know has been the case in San Antonio for a few years now. The “allocated” positions that are recommended City Council by Sheryl Sculley from year to year are just politically expedient numbers that she pulls out of thin air. What this shows is over a DECADE of Sheryl Sculley being negligent as a City Manager in properly growing the SAPD.

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[1] Express-News, “Police staffing shortage a self-created problem,” 11/25/17

[2] Express-News, “SAPD staffing improves, but barely keeps pace with city,” 08/17/17

[3] Express-News, “SAPD staffing improves, but barely keeps pace with city,” 08/17/17

[4] Spectrum News, “Shortage of Police Officers Plagues San Antonio,” 08/15/17