SAN ANTONIO — The push for criminal justice reform in San Antonio could soon be left up to voters.
On Tuesday the local activism group ACT 4 SA, along with members of the San Antonio Charter Coalition, delivered over 37,000 signatures to the Bexar County Clerk’s Office. The signatures, they say, backs their reform efforts—and represents a major step in putting the question of marijuana and abortion decriminalization before voters in May.
The group needed to collect at least 35,000 signatures to get its proposed charter amendments onto the ballot.
Ananda Tomas, executive director of ACT 4 SA, said in a press conference that the amendments would cut out unnecessary arrests across the city, and enforce what they call dangerous practices by police that harm the community.
“It will also mitigate discriminatory and dangerous policing practices proven to harm both community and officers alike, and, finally, save scarce public safety tax dollars that can be reallocated however our community sees fit,” said Tomas.
Some of those amendments ACT 4 SA hopes makes it onto the ballot include ending the enforcement of low-level marijuana possession offenses and officers’ enforcement of abortion crimes.
They also hope to completely ban no-knock police warrants and police chokeholds. According to the San Antonio Police Officers’ Association, the policies are already banned in within the San Antonio Police Department except in life-or-death situations.
“This act will make sure that they are now law and they are practiced permanently. no matter who our police chief is, no matter who is our DA or who is our city leaders, we will be saving money and keeping families together, stopping the unnecessary overcrowding of jails, but most of all, we will be saving lives through these policies,” said Tomas.
The San Antonio Police Officers’ Association responded in a statement saying amending the current city charter will “hinder the effective policing in place today.”
Danny Diaz, president of SAPOA, said crime is up in San Antonio by over 12% compared to 2021. Diaz goes on to say that the current cite-and release policy has saved the county nearly $5 million, but at the expense of public safety because “dangerous criminals and repeat offenders were allowed back on the streets in record times.”
The city clerk will now work to validate those signatures within the next 20 business days. If the signatures are verified, the amendments will be added to the ballot for the May 6 election.
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