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.