SAN ANGELO, Texas (Concho Valley Homepage) — Residents of San Angelo spoke out during the Nov. 7 City Council meeting regarding concerns for public safety in the face of a potential mass exodus of officers.
These concerns follow a string of social media outreaches to the community from former SAPD Officer Tracy Piatt-Fox.
The first of several citizens to speak out started by commending the City Council for strides made in other aspects of the community, but felt not enough was being done to address public safety and support local law enforcement.
“It’s important that we keep those people. It doesn’t do us any good if we train people and then they leave us,” said the first resident. “Let’s try to do our best for our police department and be sure that they want to continue living here.”
Another citizen mentioned her concern for the safety of SAISD students with the potential for a lack of active officers as well as her own safety, the elderly, business owners and the homeless.
“San Angelo, you want it to be a safe place, “said the resident. “The best way to make it a safe place is to have public safety officers who are paid comparably to other cities in our state.”
City Manager, Daniel Valenzuela, addressed the concerns and said that public safety was paramount to the community, wanting residents to understand that the council does hold local law enforcement with high regard.
Valenzuela has been working with the SAPD Coalition for several weeks to find a resolution to the situation, but says it may not be resolved until January 2024.
Following Valenzuela’s commentary on the subject, Fox addressed the City Council with her concerns.
“We do not have until January because they are leaving very soon,” said Fox.
Fox told the council that SAPD officers have been paid 20 percent less than other comparable agencies in recent years. According to Fox, the officers leaving wanted to seek a living wage. Additionally, she informed the council that many of the officers leaving are ones who provide off-duty security to SAPD campuses.
Taishi Ligon, owner of Cookie Joy who recently made a statement in support of local law enforcement with a batch of cookies, also spoke to the City Council.
“I think even on my best days I could not do what they do on their worst days, ” said Ligon. ” I am looking forward to that pay increase so we can keep them here and keep them healthy and happy.”
The last to speak was a family member of an SAPD officer. She recalled a time she had to call on police while an unwanted subject tried to break through her window. She told the council she and her children had been terrified until three officers arrived to assist.
“I can’t imagine an officer going into a house and not having backup,” said the resident, ” I pray for my family members in PD…they wake up every day facing crime and San Angelo has a lot of crime.”
Valenzuela assured the community that the appropriate actions are being taken to address the situation.
“It’s not a matter of dragging feet,” said Valenzuela. “There is a process that is followed. We do hope everything goes very well and I am very confident that it will.”