SAN ANGELO, Texas (Concho Valley Homepage) — Several San Angelo police officers and former officers have spoken out after news broke regarding a potential mass departure of officers from the department.
This comes after the former Public Information Officer for SAPD, Tracey Piatt-Fox, implored the community to reach out to local officials to address the potential of a mass exodus of officers from the department.
In a follow-up to her original statement, Fox again warned that if the community did not band together to ensure that SAPD Officers were paid a competitive living wage, the city would lose over 20 officers. A loss of officers at this level, she said, would cause a significant threat to public safety. Response times would take longer, and without adequate backup, officers may not respond quickly enough in crisis situations. It also means officers could be forced into more overtime, which can impact performance, leading to burnout, fatigue and a range of debilitating health issues.
“Even if we lose 10, not 20+, it will cripple patrol shifts. What will happen if a major incident occurs at an SAISD campus? Shannon Hospital? H‑E‑B? Your house. Your business?‼️” said Fox. “Seconds matter when it comes to saving lives.”
SAPD officers, who will remain anonymous, have stated they are frustrated with the lack of support or compensation from the city, as well as being subjected to the court of public opinion, one citing comments made by Mayor Brenda Gunter in a past city council meeting.
“When statements like this are made in a public setting such as a City Council Meeting, this is what is portrayed to the citizens,” said the officer. “The officers can only hope that SAPOC’s statement showed our citizens how we truly feel about the Mayor’s comments.”
Additionally, this officer felt as though the good the department has done in this community has not only been overlooked but drowned out.
“Actions such as these [taken during an active shooter situation on Sunset Dr.] which are not a surprise to the officers that work for SAPD, are often not passed along to the citizens of San Angelo, but instead, the imagery of lazy cops not working, or not writing tickets, is what is championed by our elected officials,” said the officer.
Another officer spoke of issues coming from within the department, citing that the department uses older ‘hand-me-down’ technology and equipment and lacks real-time resources for patrol and investigators.
“Officers and investigators are overworked, and are underappreciated,” said the officer. “The everyday duties of a police officer have expanded greatly every year, and the added duties have not reflected in higher pay.”
A San Angelo police officer who has served the department for 10 years currently makes over $2,500 less than an Abilene Police Department cadet in their first year.
“Officers know that city leaders can pay better, and we know they choose not to,” said the officer.
Both officers have been dedicated members of the force for several years.
A former officer of SAPD said they left the department because of a toxic work environment.
“The current administration is unprofessional, out of touch, an HR nightmare. I gave my whole life for the agency and to serve the community, and they treated me like garbage,” said the officer.
CVHP staff have reached out to city officials for comment and were told that City Manager Daniel Valenzuela and the San Angelo Police Department Coalition were actively working to develop a solution. Staff have reached out to Mayor Brenda Gunter but did not receive a response by the time of publication.