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By Michael Cary

Newsflash: Cops say their jobs are stressful

Here is a heartening thought: There is a decent chance that the police officer who pulls you over or responds to your noise complaint is unhappy with his or her job.

According to a recent police union survey of SAPD rank-and-file cops, four in 10 officers who responded said they were disgruntled with their jobs.

About 25 percent of more than 2,000 police officers responded to the survey, which was conducted in March. Questions focused on a range of topics, from training to compensation.


Proper equipment suppliedNO (61%)

Proper training of supervisorsNO (72%)

Satisfied with patrol uniformNO (83%)

Significant manpower shortageYES (79%)

Preferential treatment in administrative investigationsYES (80%)

Increase in administrative complaints against officersYES (91%)

Fair compensationNO (61%)
To the question, "Is there a particular job related anxiety that frequently comes to mind? 46 percent of 535 respondents answered that they were "most concerned with being suspended/terminated." Of 554 officers who answered another question - "Do you feel that this job is the cause of stress to your physical well-being?" - more than half answered that they feel "feel moderately stressed by the overall rigors of this job, both in the field and/or administratively speaking." Twenty four percent said they feel no undue stress.

Although 56 percent of 533 officers said they would pursue a career with SAPD if they had it to do over again, 70 percent said they would not recommend the job to their children.

Rene Rodriguez, president of the San Antonio Police Officers' Association, denied that the timing of the release of the survey results intentionally coincides with a new round of police contract bargaining sessions with the City. "This is not a contract negotiation ploy, this is totally separate. I am not involved in the negotiating process on the contract. We also designed the questions to not be leading in any way, they are pretty straightforward."

Rodriguez said he has requested meetings with Chief Albert Ortiz to discuss results of the survey, but as of last week had received no response. "He appears not to be acknowledging the results, and his public information spokesman did not think he could validate the results." He said if Ortiz wants to know what is happening on the streets with beat cops, he should ask those officers..

"Some of the results are actually pretty telling about what is going on in the minds of officers in the field," Rodriguez said last week. "We felt it was time to specifically find out what is concerning the officers."

He also said he believes that if the survey were to be redistributed to San Antonio Police officers, there would be a greater response. While Brad Messer of talk radio station KTSA questioned validity of response to the Quality of Work Live survey, a police department psychologist said there is "more than enough samples of feelings out there."

Rodriguez added that he does not believe the responses would change very much if officers were surveyed a second time.

"We hope some positive changes will come out of this if management will review and acknowledge the results," Rodriguez added. "We could sit down and work ways to change officers' perceptions." One specific change Rodriguez would recommend would be to "revamp the disciplinary process in some way."

A spokesperson with the public information department of SAPD said Chief Ortiz is not ignoring the survey results, and would like to issue a public statement, but has been tied up with current city budget work sessions at City Hall.

Negotiations on a new police contract will resume at 9 a.m. Tuesday, July 22, at a location to be announced. •

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