CONTACT: Laura Mayes, 210-207-1337
SAPD PIO: 210-207-7579
SAN ANTONIO (September 11, 2020) — Today, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus issued new orders updating San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) policies relating to how SAPD responds to mental health calls and prohibiting the use of “no knock” warrants.
“The decision to revise these policies was made to better protect our officers and the public,” said Police Chief William McManus. “The newly established Escalated Mental Health Crisis Protocol’s objective provides officers with a way to help an individual who is need of mental health assistance. This new protocol aims to deescalate situations and equip officers with the tools needed in the field to protect lives.”
“I’m completely supportive of Chief McManus’s policy revisions. These encounters can unnecessarily put officers and the public in harm’s way,” said City Manager Erik Walsh. “Over the course of the next few months, we’ll continue to work with the community and evaluate SAPD’s programs, policies and call response to align with best practices.”
This June Chief McManus suspended the use of “no knock” warrants for both search and arrest warrants. In June, District 2 Councilwoman Jada Andrews Sullivan issued a Council Consideration Request (CCR) seeking to discontinue the use of “no knock” warrants.
“I’d like to thank Chief McManus, City staff and my council colleagues for working to keep our community safer. Thank you to the community for making their voices known and truly asking us to review policies in full detail,” said District 2 Councilwoman Jada Andrews Sullivan. “By discontinuing “no knock” warrants we are saving lives of both the public and our officers.”
Updates to the policies were shared with today’s meeting of the City Council Public Safety Committee Meeting, which is chaired by District 6 Councilwoman Melissa Cabello Havrda. Councilmembers Jada Andrews Sullivan, Ana Sandoval, Clayton Perry and Rebecca Viagran also sit on the committee.
“Today we made tangible steps towards making our city a safer place for the public, police officers, and our community as a whole. I have spent hours listening to and reading public comments and meeting with community groups. Thanks to Councilwoman Jada Andrews-Sullivan, Chief William McManus, Deputy City Manager Maria Villagomez, the Baptist Ministers Union, the San Antonio Police Officer's Association, individual police officers, COPS Metro, Community Churches for Social Action, organizers Pharaoh Clark and Josie Garcia, and countless others for their dedication to making substantive changes to city policy. I remain committed to fostering meaningful dialogue, thoughtful questioning and a genuine desire to foster progress rather than division. Today is a win for our city,” said District 6 Councilwoman Melissa Cabello Havrda.
The updated procedures are detailed below.
Procedures 503, entitled Obtaining and Executing Arrest Warrants and Procedures 504, entitled Execution of Search Warrants have been revised as follows:
- Prohibits officers from applying for or participating in the service of “no knock” search warrant entries
- Prohibits officers from applying for or participating in the service of “no knock” arrest warrants.
- Prohibits entry into premises when serving high-risk warrants and requires the use of alternative strategies to include setting up a perimeter and encouraging the individual being sought to surrender.
The Escalated Mental Health Crisis Call Protocol will be used for mental health crisis calls involving violent acts or the presence of weapons. The protocol includes the following provisions:
- The Communications Unit will try to determine if a service call is a mental health crisis involving weapons or violence. If an Escalated Mental Health Crisis Call exists, the dispatcher will dispatch a supervisor to the scene.
- The responding officer will coordinate with the assigned supervisor and will try to contact the complainant to gather as much information as possible prior to the supervisor’s arrival. If an Escalated Mental Health Crisis Call exists, then the SAPD Mental Health Unit Supervisor will dispatch the SAPD Mental Health team to respond to the location.
- Responding officers will not approach the person in crisis, unless the person initiates contact or there is a life-threatening situation. Officers are instructed to evaluate the situation and to be prepared to take appropriate measures to protect themselves and others. Officers are also instructed to conduct interviews of relatives, friends, neighbors or others that can provide useful information.
For more information about the San Antonio Police Department’s policies and procedures visit SanAntonio.gov/SAPD.