Story by Jaie Avila 

SAN ANTONIO – You’ll soon be voting on a sweeping proposition covering such polarizing issues as abortion and police reform. The election is in May, but voters may not be aware of how this one ballot measure could affect them.

Proposition bans police from arresting thieves who steal less than $750 worth of property© Provided by WOAI San Antonio

Caption: Jaie Avila explains how the Justice Charter Amendment could affect you.

It’s called the Justice Charter Amendment and it will be Proposition A on the ballot. But Don’t let those bland sounding names put you off. Both sides say your safety is what’s at stake.

The proposition is on the ballot because police reform activists collected enough signatures. It decriminalizes abortion and marijuana use in the city, but both are still illegal under state law.

The key provisions involve law enforcement. For example, police could not arrest people who steal less than $750 worth of property, just issue a citation.

“That’s not a good policy at all that opens the door for people to shoplift,” said San Antonio voter Richard Walthall.

Graffiti vandalism up to $25 hundred would also mean cite and release. The San Antonio Police Officers’ Association argues we would see an increase in crime like other cities that have adopted police reform measures.

“Look at Seattle, look at Oakland, look at New Orleans, and you want to get closer look at Austin, that’s exactly what’s going to happen here,” said Danny Diaz, President of the San Antonio Police Officers’ Association.

Supporters of the proposition say it won’t increase crime because people who get a citation still have to go through a diversion program.

“They have to stay in that program for this to stay as a citation and not face arrest. It does not mean they get off Scot-free. There are still several steps they have to take to keep an arrest off their record,” said Ananda Tomas of Act4SA.

The proposition would also ban choke holds by police which currently can only be used if the officer’s life is endangered. It would also prohibit no knock warrants, which SAPD hasn’t done in years.

In fact, the city says none of those reforms could be enforced because they conflict with state law. However, the proposition would also create a City Justice Director position, which the police association fears could be used to cut off funding for equipment.

“We’re not afraid of the oversight. The thing is we want is to be able to do the job that’s right to protect the citizens of the community,” Diaz said.

A pro-life group has asked the Texas Supreme Court to order that the different parts of the proposition be separated so voters can vote on them individually.

“Abortion should be legal and marijuana, everybody’s doing it anyway, but I don’t think it should be a part of that. Those are two totally different things so it shouldn’t be lumped into that,” said San Antonio voter Richelle Garza.

If the city says most of the proposition can’t be enforced, why is it such a big deal?

Both sides say it definitely matters if the measure passes. The City Justice Director position would become a reality and they say legal challenges or other changes could cause the other measures to eventually go into effect.

By don

One thought on “Proposition bans police from arresting thieves who steal less than $750 worth of property”
  1. With all the illegals pouring over our border in Texas this is not a good law to pass. We see how well it has worked in California. What Texas needs to do is purge the liberal progressives from our state!
    You know in the middle east if your caught stealing you lose a hand. Maybe we should look into that!

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