SAPD recommendation lowers recruit drug standards

SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Police Department is considering a recommendation to lower the drug standards to become a police officer.

The recruitment department wrote a proposal in mid-September to allow one time drug users a second chance at protecting the city and wearing a badge.

“Right now, we have a shortage of officers,” said Police Chief William McManus.  “We are trying to speed up that process,” he said.

The need for more officers was made clear Monday by San Antonio’s top cop on his first day back as police chief.

However, some are questioning the possibility that SAPD could relax its drug history standards to fill more than 180 vacancies on the force?

KENS 5 obtained a recommendation dated Sept.18 that proposes admitting cadets who have used cocaine, meth, heroin or ecstasy one time before the age of 25.

SAPD could lower recruitment standards

“The document you saw was merely a recommendation,” said McManus.

“Generally speaking, it reduces the standards we currently have and allows for more applicants to pass,” he said.

KENS 5 hit the streets to see what citizens had to say.

“I don’t know how it would affect you as a police officer,” said Daniel Smith. “Maybe you would relapse or do it again,” he said.

The recommendation said SAPD is losing applicants with college degrees and military careers because they may have experimented just one time at an early age.

In the past nine years, SAPD said it has denied more than 1,100 applicants, the majority of them for a one-time controlled substance use.

The police union said its saga over benefits with the city could also be a reason why recruiters would recommend relaxing their drug policy.

“I think lowering the drug use standards is not the way you do that,” said Michael Helle, president of the San Antonio Police Officers Association.

“You get people by [offering] a benefits package and pay package that warrants the type of work and recruitment that you can draw them into,” said Helle.

“If the guys that want to do cocaine and meth want to go work for Austin or Dallas, more power to them. They’ll take you,” Helle said.

The Austin Police Department allows for a two time past drug use limit. Dallas allows for a one time use only.

McManus said this is not a done deal, and talks are still in the works regarding this recommendation.