San Antonio may have dodged a bullet with the narrow defeat of Proposition B during May 1 elections. Passage could have led to an exodus from the police force.
However, the San Antonio Police Officers Association should not see its 51% share of the ballots as approval regarding how some police disciplinary cases are handled.
Pushed to a referendum by Fix SAPD, and growing out of a national mood of disenchantment thanks to a handful of police-brutality episodes, the measure would have repealed SAPOA’s collective-bargaining rights.
While it is true some officers fired over the years by San Antonio Police Department chiefs returned to the force thanks to contractual protections, an all-out repeal of SAPOA’s ability to secure the best working conditions for its members could have had disastrous consequences for the city.
The issue is not just about the small number of disciplinary cases that are overturned but, in a larger context, ensuring San Antonio can hire and retain a professional police force.
The contract ensures San Antonio’s rank-and-file officers have decent health care, a good retirement, incentives for night work and education, and more.
If Proposition B had passed, officers stripped of the ability to seek better working conditions could have left in droves, while applicants for academy classes may have started drying up. Not good in a city that continues to swell with new residents.
While the disciplinary process needs refinement, don’t deny officers the right to seek better working conditions and benefits that other employee groups take for granted.