San Antonio Police Officers Association President Mike Helle, who played a key role in the union's last two contracts with the city, will step down when his current term ends in February, according to media reports.
The most recent of those collective bargaining agreements expires next year, and the next contract is likely to face unprecedented scrutiny in light of international protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.
During Thursday's council meeting, local activists demanded that the city defund the San Antonio Police Department, forcefully arguing that it allows officers with patterns of abuse to keep patrolling the streets.
News of Helle's departure surprised city officials including Mayor Ron Nirenberg, who'd been the target of a deep-pocketed SAPOA campaign to thwart his reelection.
Despite mounting pressure on the union, Helle — the its longest-serving chief — told the Express-News it's “absolutely false” that he's leaving due to the protests. He said he informed fellow cops about his plan to retire at last year's Christmas party.
Reform groups have keyed in on provisions in SA's current police pact that shield disciplinary records from public scrutiny and make it difficult to get rid of abusive officers. Roughly two-thirds of SAPD officers fired over the past decade later had their jobs returned in arbitration, public records show.
The union and the city are scheduled to begin talks for a new contract in January.