Updated San Marcos police agreement in effect, but not everyone satisfied

todayJune 13, 2023 77 1

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By Ezekiel Ramirez

News Reporter


SAN MARCOS- On May 16, 2023, the San Marcos City Council approved a renegotiated Meet and Confer agreement between the San Marcos Police Department and the San Marcos Police Officers’ Association (SMPOA). The renegotiated agreement is currently in effect, producing multiple opinions from residents of the San Marcos community, including local activist group Mano Amiga, who abrogated the original agreement.


It has now been three years since the passing of Jennifer Miler, and nothing has come easier for her life partner Pam Watts.

In June 2020, SMPD Sergeant Ryan Hartman was driving 50% over the speed limit and flew past two stop signs which resulted in his two-ton pickup truck slamming into the vehicle of Pam Watts, killing her life partner, Jennifer Miller.

Authorities said that the SMPD official had an open 24oz can of Dos XX in his cup holder.

Sergeant Ryan was asked to prove his sobriety but refused to do so on the scene. It takes three hours to receive a warrant for Hartman’s blood sample which resulted in Sergeant Ryan being charged with criminally negligent homicide.

In the end, Hartman received a ticket for running a stop sign and 6 months of paid leave from the SMPD.

Following this tragedy, Watts teamed up with Mano Amiga to speak her mind of the reforms that she demanded be implemented in the meet and confer agreement, which is up for renegotiation every two years.

Mano Amiga gathered signatures to renegotiate the agreement. In February 2023, the City Council was allowed to honor the petition.

“If you collect signatures from at the time the threshold was about 400 people, you could force them to renegotiate the agreement which after they ignored the demands and ratified the agreement in September, we immediately started collecting signatures,” Mano Amiga communications director Sam Benavides said.

According to the San Marcos government website, the renegotiation followed the Council’s repeal of the previous Meet and Confer agreement in February, which was initiated by a community petition led by the Mano Amiga group.

The Revised Agreement 

Changes to the newly revised agreement include doubling the amount of time SMPD must investigate officers for misconduct from 180 days to 360 days and taking previous reproach and suspensions into consideration as part of the department’s promoting process.

The role of an adjudicator will be limited when considering disciplinary appeals compared to what the civil service law provides.

The agreement will remain in effect through September 30, 2026.

Mano Amiga’s Reaction

Benavides isn’t pleased with the results of the newly revised agreements and feels like their voices weren’t heard.

“The changes that were made to it are not going to be effective, not nearly as effective as the agreement the changes that we put forth that we advocated for that we propose the people who are responsible for moving the needle on this issue for collecting these signatures and forces for negotiation,” Benavides said.

The next steps for the Mano Amiga organization include gathering signatures to avoid the entire process, creating equality throughout the entire county.

“So not just the contract, but the entire process by which they negotiate that contract, and basically make it to where they will have the same rights as any other employee under the city because right now, they’re able to negotiate to get special protections that other city employees don’t get,” Benavides said. “So, we’re going to advocate for all of that to be taken away and for them to be treated just like everyone else”.

San Marcos Government’s Reactions

The San Marcos City Council voted 6-1 to approve the new Meet and Confer agreement, ending months of back-and-forth tension. Alyssa Garza was the sole oppositional vote that voiced her concerns in the matter.

“I just want some rationale as to why we did it this way, and not in a format where we can exchange ideas and make sure everybody understands the rationale,” Garza said.

Several members of the council voiced their personal dissatisfaction with the agreement, but it is the start of a major change in handling police misconduct.

“This contract is better than no contract,” Mayor Jane Hughson said.

What’s Next?

Although the City Council attempted to come to an equitable conclusion, Sam Benavides doesn’t believe the council tried hard enough.

“A lot of the narratives coming out make it sound like you know they’re meeting us halfway and there has been compromised and there has been movement and this is going to keep us safer,” Benavides said. “That is not true. None of that is true. These are the slight changes that they made are meaningless crumbs that no one cares about.”

This battle will be a difficult one, but one that Mano Amiga will never stop fighting.

“No one knew what mean confer was a year ago until we announced these reforms and kept up the public education efforts,” Benavides said. “And now a lot of people know what the agreement is and what it means for officers and the reason that they’re not disciplined, effectively and so it’ll definitely be difficult, but I’m really excited to become the first city in Texas to opt our officers out of these special protections.”

This is just the beginning for Mano Amiga, with so many hopes and visions, they are far from finished.

“That is just one step in the direction of, you know, the bigger goal, the bigger picture is just wanting to where officers do not roam our streets and police our community with unchecked power like they do right now and are actually held accountable for their actions,” Benavides said.

To learn more about Mano Amiga, visit

Featured Image by Mano Amiga. 

Written by: Preethi Mangadu

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