Growing up in San Antonio’s Southside, I am extremely concerned about the defund the police effort that has gripped our country, our state, and my hometown. Like many urban areas, San Antonio has been targeted by radical, anti-police activists funded by out-of-state, dark money special interests.
In San Antonio, their tactic was to put forward a ballot proposition to strip the police of their collective bargaining ability.
Their goal was to gut and weaken our police department by repealing officer rights, replacing officers with civilians and ultimately to defund the police entirely. Had they been successful, recruiting quality police officers to effectively protect our communities would have been next to impossible.
As has happened in many communities, morale would have been devastated, we would have seen a massive wave of retirements as officers look to move on. Emergencies would have been responded to by civilians with less authority. Response times would have been slower resulting in more crime that would have, ultimately, destabilize our community and put us in peril.
The anti-police activists behind these efforts claim it’s about “accountability,” but they are misguided. These efforts would remove police officers’ ability to have a voice in their pay, benefits, and working conditions — the same that other public employees, like postal workers, teachers, and fire fighters, have today. Police discipline would have been handed over to partisan politicians, anti-police activists, and unelected bureaucrats, instead of neutral third parties. Next, they would have gone after civil service protections for our police officers, effectively decimating the department and hamstringing the police officers who keep us safe every day.
According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, San Antonio experienced an increase in violent crime—homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault—in 2020. This increase totaled 11,252 incidents and is the highest reported since 2011. The number of violent crimes has nearly doubled since 2012 where there were 6,943 incidents reported. The fact is that San Antonio has become more deadly with 128 reported homicides—the second highest reported numbers since 1995.
We were all shocked by the death of George Floyd, but the answer is not to defund those that protect us. This would be tantamount to throwing out the proverbial baby with the bathwater. The response should be to devise a comprehensive model to better identify, train, assign, promote the police officers we have. Law enforcement officers have a very difficult job and should be supported.
We all saw the chaos in Portland and Minneapolis when the police were told to stand down. But this is Texas. This is San Antonio. We believe in law and order. I was born and raised here, and I know we don’t have the mistrust and divisions between community and police that they do in other large cities.
Every city that has passed defund the police measures have seen a massive spike in crime, and that hurts Hispanic and Black families the most.
Thankfully, the voters in San Antonio made the right choice this time and narrowly defeated the ballot proposition by a slim margin of only 51% of the vote. However, these anti-police activists are always waiting to take advantage of a situation. We must be vigilant. Make no mistake, these defund the police efforts will make all our neighborhoods less safe. We need the brave men and women of the police.