SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Police Officers Association board is calling for “No Confidence” vote for San Antonio Police Chief William McManus.
Union President Mike Helle called for the vote in an email sent to union members. It will be a symbolic vote, even if it’s unanimous. It’s up to City Manager Sheryl Sculley to make a change.
Multiple sources within the department say this stems back to the chief for what they say is premature, action against Officer John Lee.
Lee is the officer accused of shooting and killing Antronie Scott on February 4 after Lee thought Scott was holding a gun. It turned out Scott was actually holding a cell phone. Lee was placed on contemplative indefinite suspension and the case was handed over to the district attorney.
The email outlines how they are worried about police reform that McManus supports, saying it risks officer lives unnecessarily.
We have reached out to the union, McManus and Sculley for comment. But so far, none have responded yet.
There is no date on when a vote will take place, but an outside company will be handling it.
Here is the email from the police union…
This is YOUR Chance to Vote.
I am going to get right to the point. Due to recent events, your Board of Directors voted unanimously to hold a “No Confidence” vote in the policies and leadership of Chief McManus. This email is intended to give you an overview of the pending vote and the reasons why we have sought your input with this vote. This is a very serious matter that demands your focus and honesty.
A vote of “No Confidence” is a team decision. Its a decision from our entire family and we will speak as one based on the results of this vote. We cannot take this lightly and we should all do our best to speak the truth and vote based on how you honestly feel about the issues put before you. Here are the two items we will address:
1.You will be asked to vote on the leadership policies of the Chief. Specifically, do you have confidence in the Chief’s implementation of law enforcement policies and standards. Here is a copy of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) 30 Guiding Principles the Chief is pushing to implement. To help you further understand what’s facing you in this vote, here is a copy of the statement against the PERF recommendations from the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Fraternal Order of Police. For me, it all comes down to the oath I took when I put the badge on for the first time. We cannot reasonably ask officers to walk away from dangerous situations and then, as PERF suggests, be second guessed for their actions. Officer John Lee’s case is a prime example of how these suggestions may be implemented. We are protectors and guardians. I would never advocate for any policing strategies that hamstring our officers and hamper their judgment and decision making. That’s a recipe for disaster and will put the lives of officers in harm’s way.
2.You will be asked where you stand on the SAPOA contract negotiations. We have been at this for two years and we are still standing united. Unfortunately, the City Manager and Mayor think otherwise and they are consistently telling anyone who will listen that the Membership wants a deal and they want to get back to negotiating now, despite the lawsuit. We want to quantify the opposition to the City’s contract offer and lawsuit and demonstrate the resolve of our family to stay together. I will need you to be honest about where you are on getting back to the table with the lawsuit remaining. This is not a vote on the contract negotiating team. This vote is meant to demonstrate our unity to City leadership. Our stand has been that we will NOT negotiate while being sued any longer. We have chosen to FIGHT. Hopefully you agree with SAPOA’s position to hold the line and not bargain while being sued, and vote YES on the ballot.
We have faced tough times over the years. I can honestly say, none more so than now. We are in the middle of tough contract negotiations, we are being sued by our employer, and on top of all that, the Chief is attempting to implement wholesale changes to our long standing, highly successful, policing strategies.
We need your voice. We need you to participate. I look forward to hearing from each of you.
Yours in service,
Statement from City Manager Sheryl Sculley:
“The police union’s attempt to undermine Chief McManus is outrageous and has absolutely zero affect on my confidence in the Chief’s ability to lead and manage the San Antonio Police Department. The community has expectations about how officers conduct themselves, and the Chief is part of a national effort to implement reforms in policing.
The union needs to get back to the table to negotiate a contract that the taxpayers can afford. The “evergreen” lawsuit goes away if and when a new contract is negotiated and ratified.”
Statement from San Antonio Police Officers Association President Michael Helle:
“A “No Confidence” vote is a clear message the Chief of Police has lost the trust of those he was chosen to lead. This vote was demanded by the Membership and the SAPOA leadership agreed it was necessary to send a clear message to the City Council that we no longer have faith in the Chief of Police to implement policies that take care of police officers and their families. The City Manager is attempting to silence the voice of police officers by saying they basically need to shut up and do their jobs. That’s easily said from a $600,000 a year, ivory tower job at City Hall. But, the fact is, the changes the Chief and Sheryl Sculley are trying to implement put police officer’s lives in jeopardy.
“SAPOA cannot stand by in silence. Employees in this country have a right to stand up and be heard. This vote is our right and duty to ensure the concerns of police officers are heard loud and clear. We are duty bound to protect our community and this vote will end the message that we believe these policies only serve to put the public’s safety, and the safety of all police officers, in jeopardy.”
Response to City Manager Sheryl Sculley from Officer John Lee’s Attorney Ben M. Sifuentes Jr. on Vote of No Confidence:
I applaud the members of the San Antonio Police Officers Association holding a vote of “No-Confidence.” This is a beautiful exercise of each member’s First Amendment Rights guaranteed by our Constitution to speak on matters of public policy. Never should anyone criticize an exercise of this precious right.
Mr. McManus’ attempts to implement PERF is an attempt to abrogate the State Constitutional functions of our State Legislators, Governor, and Judges who are all elected. Only these three branches of government should be entitled to alter the law set forth in:
1. Chapter Nine of the Texas Penal Code which governs police use of force, and
2. Chapters 2 and 14 of the Code of Criminal Procedure which governs the arrest authority of police officers.
If these powers and duties need to be limited, it should be done by elected officials who have the authority to change these laws. Thus, if Mr. McManus wishes to alter the laws of the State of Texas, he should appear in Austin and lobby for those changes, in a public forum, with full transparency, rather than unilaterally changing Texas law undemocratically.
San Antonio Officers, know that your community loves and supports you as you vote.