Deputy Sheriffs Association of Bexar County
The president of the DSABC, Jeremy Payne, sent a letter to Sheriff Salazar on May 4, with concerns and requests for the deputies of the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office. Unsurprisingly, Sheriff Salazar answered those concerns and requests in a way as to not give much of an answer at all. For example, the first concern by Deputy Payne is,
“The first concern that is affecting us is testing. We are being told that the Coloseum (sic) is no longer requiring symptoms to be tested yet, the deputies not assigned to detention are required to have symptoms before being allowed to test. We are asking that everyone be treated fairly and that all deputies receive the same treatment in regards to testing.”
Jeremy Payne is obviously speaking about the testing that is being done at the Joe Freeman Coliseum. Yet when Sheriff Salazar responds to Deputy Payne’s letter he talks about hot spots and people being put on paid administrative leave. Sheriff Salazar’s response is about what is happening at the jail and does nothing to address the concerns about non-symptomatic officers being denied tests at the Coliseum testing location. Sheriff Salazar’s response,
“Currently, testing is being conducted in stages, first in our hotspots to expand out with limitations of symptoms, Symptomatic being priority throughout the agency. With this, personnel who tested positive have been placed on paid Administrative leave for a two week period and those still showing signs are extended coverage throughout the illness.”
Sheriff Salazar Makes No Effort for His Staff
Sheriff Salazar could easily have spoken to Judge Wolff or anyone else on Commissioners Court to find out what was happening. He could have asked that his officers, being at such high risk as all officers are, be allowed to test even if they are not showing signs but he didn’t bother to make the effort. Just today Mayor Nirenberg said San Antonio has the capacity to test as many as 3,000 people a day. We are not testing that many but we have the capacity to. If that’s the case, then why can’t these officers get tested?
If you read the responses from Sheriff Salazar you will see that they are all just spin. He doesn’t really give solid answers on anything. But the worst part is when Deputy Payne asks for professional cleaning of the Bexar County Jail and Salazar responds in part with, “…none have been feasible either by implementation or cost…” People get things cleaned all the time yet with the lives of his staff at stake, Sheriff Salazar says it will cost too much. He goes on to justify his lack of concern by saying, “We have maintained a steady stream of PPE for the staff…” He thinks giving staff masks offsets working in a highly contaminated environment. It doesn’t.
DSABC President’s Response
I hope Deputy Payne doesn’t mind that we decided to post his complete response to the people he represents. We felt it was important because it shows how real leaders look at situations their people face. It shows how real leaders act.
SHERIFF’S RESPONSE COMES UP SHORT
To the Members of the DSABC:
On May 4th, I sent a letter to Sheriff Salazar conveying our concerns about your on-the-job safety and other employment issues amid the current health crisis. On May 13th, the Sheriff responded and I am attaching his letter here for your review. While I appreciate the Sheriff’s quick response, I was disappointed to see that the offers no substantive action on the needs and concerns we clearly laid out.
For example, in response to our request to take action on getting the jail professionally cleaned and disinfected, the Sheriff responded that none of the proposals he has seen are cost-effective. He says he needs to be a “good steward of public funds.” While true, it should not be at the expense of our lives. So far, 60+ Officers have tested positive for COVID and nearly 400 of the 1,611 inmates have tested positive. Three Officers have had serious cases, and unfortunately, we have already lost one Deputy to COVID. If there was ever a case for a fiscally sound use of taxpayer dollars, this is it. It’s unfortunate that the Sheriff is failing to stand up for Deputies who are at risk every day during this pandemic.
You can rest assured, however, that the DSABC Leadership will not let you be overlooked during this crisis, even as the Sheriff tries to save money at your expense. We intend to reach out to County Commissioners to try and get these issues resolved. We are confident that they will see that there is no better use of public funds than to save lives and prevent the further spread of this terrible virus.
Stay safe and remember we always have your six!