San Antonio City Council Must Reduce Arrests by Enacting a Cite and Release Ordinance

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

After a year of implementation, the current cite and release administrative policy has fallen short of its intended goals and has proven insufficient at protecting our community members equally. Public reporting has been extremely limited, field releases have remained low, and over-policing is still evident among Black people and communities of color. 

It is time to codify and make cite and release into an ordinance. An ordinance will reduce overall arrests and eliminate discretionary arrests for low-level offenses. It will increase data transparency from COSA to the public and institutionalize public involvement throughout policy implementation. Most Importantly, it 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. Lastly, it will 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. 

Along with adopting a cite and release ordinance, we must continue to work towards the overall goals of completely transforming and reimagining systems that are inherently racists and dehumanizing. A vote for a cite and release ordinance is also a vote to commit to continuing the work to address the more significant policing and criminalization issues that impact our communities. 

Demand that the San Antonio City Council pass a meaningful cite and release ordinance that will: 

  • Receive input from directly impacted people: As with any city ordinance that directly impacts the community, the city council must consider input from those most affected. 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.  
  • Include limitations on police officer discretion: 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 arrests to only be applicable 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 of this policy and reports information regarding the outcomes for those who have received citations and who are then assigned to a particular diversion program. Reporting from the San Antonio Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office has been limited, and commitments to making these reports public have been extremely minimal. An ordinance would ensure that the data necessary for the efficacy, transparency, and accountability needed for such a policy would remain relevant and predictable. 
  • Include additional low-level misdemeanors: Many community members are still being arrested for certain misdemeanors designated by the State of Texas as eligible under cite and release. Although crimes that involve theft or destruction of property elicit strong reactions, a policy that does not emphasize alternatives to arrest and incarceration fails to truly address the root causes that often play a significant role in the commission of these offenses. Offenses such as graffiti, driving without a license, and most other Class C misdemeanors should not automatically result in a devastating arrest record.