Sign this petition to urge your city council representatives to support the adoption of a cite and release ordinance. The benefits of this ordinance will positively impact Black and people of color in San Antonio who continue to experience discriminatory policing and over-criminalization.
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About the Petition
We are calling on our city council elected leaders to act and show their commitment to reducing the harm and devastation caused by discriminatory policing, by enacting a comprehensive cite and release ordinance. Cite and release is a solution-based approach that will keep thousands of families together by allowing an average of 11,000 people a year to not suffer the harsh consequences of an arrest, such as losing their job, losing access to higher education, or other public services. It will also save the city and county millions in taxpayer dollars that can be re-invested in other community needs such as housing, public health, and education. A strong ordinance will direct law enforcement to issue citations for eligible offenses under state law, instead of making harmful arrests.
By advocating for a strong cite and release ordinance, we are demanding for the San Antonio City Council to pass a meaningful ordinance that will do the following:
- Receive input from directly impacted people: As with any city ordinance that directly impacts the community, city and county leaders must consider input from those most affected by discriminatory policing. This input should come from local community organizations and advocates, but more importantly, from the voices of the people who have been most impacted by the system directly. Further, all cite and release contacts should be equally enforced so that people with previous system involvement are not automatically alienated from this policy’s purpose and benefits.
- Guide officer discretion to favor citations over arrests: Even when we act with good intentions, all of our actions incorporate the explicit and implicit biases that permeate our society. The only way to ensure cite and release benefits all San Antonians equally is to guide officer discretion through an ordinance. An ordinance adopted by the city council mandating citations for eligible offenses will limit unnecessary and discriminatory arrests, allowing for arrest only within certain exceptions.
- Expand forms of acceptable IDs: Many of our community’s most vulnerable members currently cannot meet the ID requirements of cite and release. We need an ordinance that includes additional forms of ID, such as library cards, student IDs, and church membership cards. This approach will ensure that our most vulnerable populations will benefit from a program that could save them from the life-long consequences of an arrest record.
- Produce robust and timely data collection: Public data that is comprehensive and timely is crucial to ensuring accountability in implementing this ordinance. It is necessary that this data expressly illustrates trends and all other relevant data on the enforcement and diversion aspects of this policy. An ordinance would ensure that the data necessary for such a policy’s efficacy, transparency, and accountability would remain relevant and predictable.
- Include all citation-eligible offenses: Many community members are still being arrested for certain misdemeanors designated by the state of Texas as eligible for a citation under state law. Anyone being charged with a citation-eligible offense should not be criminalized. Everyone deserves the opportunity to live a life without the devastating consequences of an arrest record.
Along with adopting a cite and release ordinance, we must continue to work towards the abolishment of systems that are inherently racist and dehumanizing. By urging your elected leaders to support a strong cite and release ordinance, you are also showing the importance of the need to continue the work to address the more significant policing and criminalization issues that impact our communities.