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Church opens dialogue with police chief on police brutality, racism

San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said he is angry about and condemns what happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Credit: KENS 5

SAN ANTONIO — Police Chief William McManus told a panel of church leaders he is bothered by collective bargaining and state law protecting what he describes as bad officers.

When William McManus became police chief of the Minneapolis Police Department he recalls walking into a strained relationship with the minority community. McManus remembers a voluntary agreement signed with the Department of Justice to form a police-citizens relations council due to poor relations with minorities.

“One of the first questions that I was asked because it was voluntary agreement was -- will you honor the agreement when you come in or will you let it dissolve?” McManus said. “I said, no, of course I’ll honor it.”

McManus, who left the MPD for San Antonio in 2006, said bridging change with the community came with acrimony and more than 100 recommendations to reform that department. He even assigned a lieutenant to keep up with the recommendations. He shared his account with Pastor Ray Brown and leaders of Resurrection Baptist Church in Schertz. The church has a second location on Redland Oaks in San Antonio police jurisdiction.

“Speaking from a spiritual point God sometimes allow the worst to be pulled out so that we can get about seeing the business of the best,” Brown said.

The pastor held a recorded conversation with McManus and executive members of his church on the meeting platform Zoom. He said this moment is opportune. Brown said his church members have questions. McManus said he’s maintained good relations with minority communities in Washington D.C., Dayton, Ohio and Minneapolis.

“The ironic…the funny part of it is I got along well with them but they didn’t like the police department,” He said.

McManus said officers are afforded protections by labor agreements and state law. In fact, he said it provides a haven for bad officers because good officers don’t require the same shield.

“Everybody’s going to make a mistake. But a mistake and misconduct are two different things,” He said.

Church leaders shared instances where they were pulled over by officers in Texas and Louisiana. The instances created a level of fear for them all because of alleged racial bias toward African-Americans by police even Brown remembers being racially profiled.

Historically, the African-American church has leveraged its profile to fight civil rights issues. Brown said his members are prepared to fight racism and police misconduct. He considers it a sin to keep quiet.

“God has given me that calling,” Brown said. “I don’t like talking about this. I’m uncomfortable with this kind of discussion. But I know I’m convicted and I can’t call myself a man of God if I’m going to be preaching his word and yet people of God are living in defeat.”

McManus said he is angry about and condemns what happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis. He said it was a setback for police/community relations.

The call to defund police departments he supports as it applies to reallocating funds to areas where officers confront issues likes mental health and homelessness. McManus said he’d back moving funding where those issues would be better addressed.

Brown said his church plans to host more forums to address systemic racism.

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