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Local Activist Seek Reform To San Marcos Police

todaySeptember 20, 2022 53

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Emma Jones 

News Reporter 

Updated 8:14 PM

Local group Mano Amiga has begun seeking signatures for their petition. The “Hartman Reforms” call for these five changes to the city’s contract with the San Marcos police department.

End the 180-Day Rule

This reform would end the statute of limitations that currently bar investigating wrongdoing by officers. 

End Delay of Interviews for Misconduct 

San Marcos officers currently have 48 hours or more to review materials and prepare their answers before giving an official statement.

Public Transparency for Personnel Files

The group wants misconduct that has been documented to be available to the public and supervising officers.

End Third-Party Arbitration

This reform would replace the current arbiter system with a Civil Service Commission. Mano Amiga believes this is a more democratic system and would lead to more accountability. 

End Vacation Forfeiture as a Substitute to Suspension

This reform could allow for seniority & promotion advantages to be stripped when disciplined for misconduct.

The original article starts below.

SAN MARCOS- On Friday night, Mano Amiga Texas State met with Pam Watts at Modern Day Hemp to uncover the case of her late partner, Jennifer Miller who was killed in a car accident involving a former San Marcos police officer. Mano Amiga is launching a ballot initiative to hold San Marcos Police Department accountable. 

On June 10, 2020, Sgt. Ryan Hartman, a San Marcos Police Officer, was off duty when he caused an accident involving the late Jennifer Miller and her partner, Pamela Watts. Hartman reportedly was traveling 16 miles over the speed limit, had an open container of alcohol in his vehicle, and was using his cellphone.  

On the scene, Hartman refused a field sobriety test. Hartman was charged with a traffic ticket, which he got rid of through a defensive driving course. 

Watts suffered from severe injuries due to the accident but as soon as she recovered, she began fighting for justice for Miller. She started by making a banner and sitting behind the police department.  

“Nobody cared until I got strong enough to start to fight,” Watts said, “I wanted the people who were working with him to know what they are dealing with.”  

Hartman has since been fired from the San Marcos Police Department and appealed his firing last spring. However, he has since been permanently suspended from SMPD. 

Watts has worked closely with Mano Amiga since Spring 2021. Mano Amiga is an activist group in San Marcos, known for advocating for change through progressive policy reforms in central Texas.  

“This heavy-handed policing that is happening in our country, district attorneys that are covering for them, and police officers who aren’t holding people accountable,” Watts said, “It is not a political thing; it is their job to protect people who are in fear. And these are the people running San Marcos.”  

 On the two-year anniversary of Miller’s death, Watts and Mano Amiga pushed for five changes to the police contract with the city of San Marcos. These are called “Hartman Reforms.” 

 The city of San Marcos approved the new police contract on September 14, without the changes. The city only addressed two out of five of the reforms. In response, Mano Amiga is launching a ballot initiative to repeal its ratification. Mano Amiga wants to demonstrate community power and hold SMPD accountable for their actions.  

 “They addressed a couple of them, but nowhere near what our community needs.” Said Sam Benavides, Mano Amiga. 

 As soon as the contract has been ratified, Mano Amiga plans on collecting signatures on campus. They need only under 400 signatures to get repeal on the ballot, twelve times less than what they needed for their successful marijuana decriminalization initiative last semester. 

 “It could take anywhere from a day to a week,” Benavides said, “We are waiting for the city and the police to sign the contract, it will be uploaded to the website, and then we can collect signatures on the same day. We will have 60 days to collect signatures.”  

 

 We reached out to the San Marcos Police Officer Association, but they did not comment. 

 

To learn more about Pam Watt’s story, read this article from The Austin Chronicle.   

 

Community members interested in signing the petition or helping the group collect signatures can contact sam@manomigasm.org to get involved. 

 

Follow Mano Amiga San Marcos on Twitter or visit their website to stay updated. 

Written by: Jordan Young

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