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A Focus to Help Women Across the City

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The San Antonio City Council recently approved a resolution supporting women’s safety, health, and economic opportunity throughout the city.

“The issue of women’s equity has penetrated our national consciousness. More than ever, it is imperative for San Antonio’s City Council to demonstrate its support for the women of our community,” said District 3 Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran. “Women continue to make tremendous impacts across countless genres and industries, so it is time to take appropriate action to recognize and support these achievements.”

In the city, more than 51 percent of the total population of 1,144,646 are women. This resolution identifies three policy priorities to drive equitable outcomes for women through existing city services: eliminate domestic violence and sexual assault, promote positive women’s health outcomes, and address inequitable access to economic and business opportunities.

Eliminating Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault:

Domestic violence disproportionally impacts women in our community. In recent years the number of domestic violence cases has increased and the City of San Antonio is committed to reducing domestic violence and sexual assault cases. In May 2018, a presentation showing a map of gaps where there is a high concentration of risk for domestic violence and low concentration of services. Work continues in this area to incorporate services provided by non-profit and other organizations and evaluate the impact of prevention and intervention services with the goal of reducing domestic violence and sexual assault cases.

Positive Women’s Health Outcomes:

San Antonio’s teen birth rate and repeat teen births lag behind the national average. To address teen pregnancy, the city of San Antonio Health Department convenes the San Antonio Teen Pregnancy Prevention Collaborative, a collective impact effort focused on reducing the teen pregnancy rate. San Antonio has made significant progress in this area by reducing the teen birth rate in Bexar County by 53 percent since 2006, but it still remains 49 percent higher than the national rate for ages 15 to 19. Maternal and child health progress has stalled in recent years in San Antonio. To address this concern, the Health Department has made this a key priority in its strategic plan.

Economic and Business Opportunities for Women:

On average, San Antonio women earn less money, own fewer businesses, and have less access to capital than their male counterparts. To address these challenges, the city has increased the number of successful female entrepreneurs and highly skilled females in the workforce through city programs and investments such as the Small Business Economic Development Advocacy Program, Launch SA and Project Quest. Through the SBEDA program alone, city contract dollars paid to local women-owned businesses have increased from 3 percent in 2011 to 17 percent in 2017.

Equity Program:

An equity impact assessment tool is being used to ensure city services, programs, and policies are equitable while considering the different needs and priorities of our community. As an example, the tool was used on city boards and commissions to enhance women and minority participation. In 2019, a train-the-trainer program will begin to normalize, organize, and operationalize equity across all city departments.

Boards and Commissions:

An Equity Impact Assessment, completed in October 2018, revealed that 39 percent of the current membership of the city’s boards and commissions is comprised of women while the san Antonio population is comprised of more than 51 percent women. The result of the assessment is an action plan designed to enhance meaningful community outreach and engagement, to increase diversity on city boards and commissions, and reduce implicit bias. The percentage of women in executive positions (Directors, Assistant Director, and Leadership Team) within the city organization has significantly increased from 26 percent in 2005 to 43 percent today. Programs have been developed to assist employees to executive roles, such as Supervisory Excellence Training and the Management Development Institute.

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Another Blow Dealt: Charges Not Directly Linked To Victim Breonna Taylor

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Residents of Louisville, Kentucky along with spectators across the world have waited for more than six months with anticipation for the verdict in the Breonna Taylor case. Anticipation has been boiling so much so that city and state officials began preparing days ago for uncertainty in the event that protests and riots could potentially break out once the verdict was read. The Kentucky National Guard and state police were called in and a 72-hour countywide curfew has been enacted. Once again there is further division, unrest, and lack of trust in another American city as clashes have already began to erupt in the streets of Louisville.

The verdict is in and the long-awaited grand jury charges are as follows. Only one former police officer, Brett Hankinson, was indicted on three felony counts of first-degree wanton endangerment. In a nutshell, the other two officers will face no charges and the charges Hankinson faces are not directly related to the wrongful death of Breonna Taylor, but rather his reckless action of “wantonly shooting a gun” into an apartment (not Breonna’s). First-degree wanton endangerment is a Class D felony, the lowest of four classes of felonies, the maximum sentence is five years; the minimum is one year.

Last week an announcement was made by the city of Louisville that a $12 million settlement had been reached with the family of Breonna Taylor. Continued prayers for the family of Breonna Taylor and the city of Louisville.

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2021 Budget Adopted

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City of San Antonio’s Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Makes Investments in Public Health, Housing and Workforce Development

SAN ANTONIO (September 17, 2020) – Today, the City Council unanimously adopted the $2.9 billion Fiscal Year 2021 Budget, which is $4.4 million lower than last year’s budget, stays well below the statutory cap on property taxes and continues to invest resources in the four pillars of the Recovery & Resilience Plan, which includes keeping people in their homes, training people to secure jobs that are available today, supporting small businesses and improving digital connectivity for residents.

“The goal of the fiscal year 2021 budget is to maintain the city services that our residents expect, while also helping them recover from the devastating economic and health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said City Manager Erik Walsh. “We’ve been able to make meaningful investments in the services our community asked for, including public health, housing and human services, such as resources for mental health and support for those experiencing homelessness.”

The FY 2021 Adopted Budget invests $346 million in the community to vital services including health, housing, education and human services; this is in addition to the $291 million from federal grants targeted to assist the City with the response and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, as part of the continued response to COVID-19, many departments, such as Metro Health, Fire, Neighborhood & Housing Services, Economic Development and Human Services, have changed their focus to address the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic and help San Antonio recover from its effects.

Public Health

$45.8 million is allocated to Metro Health, including $20.3 million in the General Fund, which is a 29.6 percent increase compared to the FY 2020 Adopted Budget, the largest proportional increase of any department. The Adopted Budget creates a new Violence Prevention Division in Metro Health with a total investment of $8.9 million, including $1.3 million in new funds, and the transfer of 20 Crisis Response Team employees from the San Antonio Police Department to Metro Health. 

The adopted budget also includes $1 million to expand the Healthy Neighborhood Program and to create a new Community Health Connector Partnership and augment other public health programs. The adopted budget also adds $120,000 to add 12 healthy corner stores in Districts 1, 2, 4 and 7, while maintaining support for the eight stores in District 3. This program provides healthy food options to areas that lack access to grocery stores. 

Housing

The FY 2021 Adopted Budget allocates $27.5 million for affordable housing initiatives. This allocation also includes $300,000 for new legal kiosks at key city locations to assist at-risk populations. 

Policing

The adopted budget includes $486.5 million for the San Antonio Police Department, an increase of 1.7%. Nearly all of the increase is contractually-obligated (by the collective bargaining agreement with the police union) or state law-required. The proposed budget reallocates $1.6 million from the police budget to accept a federal COPS grant to hire 25 new officers focused on preventing domestic violence and reduces overtime for police officers by $3.4 million.

The FY 2021 Adopted Budget also introduces a deliberate process to address foundational issues within the police department, review police services and engage the entire community on expectations. The San Antonio Police Department responds to more than 2.1 million calls for service per year, some of which may be more appropriately handled by other departments and service providers. The process will review foundational issues, such as accountability and discipline of officers, determine the community’s expectations of the police department, incorporate community input and identify funding and alternative response mechanisms. A draft plan will be presented to the City Council by April 2021. Negotiations for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement with the San Antonio Police Officers Association will begin in the spring of 2021.

Support for Residents Experiencing Food Insecurity

The budget also invests $1 million in the San Antonio Food Bank’s Culinary Center. The project will provide more prepared meals for families experiencing food insecurity. The center will also increase Culinary Training program class size, provide space for on-site nutrition education classes and allow the San Antonio Food Bank to be more prepared in the event of a natural disaster or future pandemic. 

General Fund 

The General Fund, the largest operating fund in the proposed budget, is $1.28 billion, which is a 0.7 percent increase over FY 2020. The increase is primarily due to compensation increases from the collective bargaining agreements with the police and fire unions. The Adopted Budget includes new and existing investments in community service priorities. These investments include:

  • Small business support: additional $500,000 that partially reinstates a City fee waiver program and an establishes a new entrepreneurship program
  • Violence Prevention: a new division in Metro Health with a total investment of $8.9 million, including $1.3 million in new funds and the transfer of 20 Crisis Response Team workers from SAPD to Metro Health
  • Affordable Housing: $27.5 million to assist residents at risk of displacement and facilitate the development of affordable housing
  • Homelessness and Mental Health: $36 million investment, representing a $1 million more than FY 2021. $560,000 will allow the City to expand the Homeless Outreach Team created through the recovery and resiliency plan resulting in 11 district outreach Teams (one per district and downtown). $500,000 is added for an alternative mental health response option
  • Healthy Food Access: $120,000 to add 12 healthy corner stores in Districts 1, 2, 4 and 7, while maintaining support for the 8 stores in District 3
  • Education: $1.1 million to AlamoPROMISE to provide college scholarships to Alamo Colleges students
  • Human Services and Workforce Development: $24.3 million for delegate agencies providing critical services to San Antonio residents

The General Fund also adapts to a new fiscal reality and the impacts of COVID-19 by including $87 million in budget cuts over two years ($38 million in FY 2021 and $49 million in FY 2022) due to revenue reductions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some the of the reductions include: 

  • Reduction of $14 million through City hiring freeze for most vacant positions, no pay increases for City employees, and other compensation adjustments
  • Suspension of economic development incentives saving $5.5 million
  • $3.4 million in reductions to the Police Department overtime budget and suspension of Police Cadet Hiring Bonus program ($739,500) 
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New SAPD Protocols

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San Antonio Police Chief William McManus announces new mental health crisis call protocol and permanent end of the use of “no knock” warrants.

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

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