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Many SAPD Officers Are Patrolling In Pairs After Dallas Ambush

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The San Antonio Police Department has been on high alert since the killing of five police officers in Dallas this month. And many San Antonio cops have been patrolling in pairs -- two officers per car. 

“Our Department has functioned as a single-man unit car for many, many years, says Detective Mike Helle, president of the San Antonio Police Officer’s Association. “We certainly don’t have the resources to provide two-man unit cars, but the Chief has been pretty good about allowing some latitude from the unit commanders that if officers want to double up in those circumstances, then they can.”

An SAPD spokesman says commanders and shift directors have discretion to double up officers when “they feel there is a need or in response to any credible threats.”

There is not a blanket policy to double up all officers. SAPD wouldn’t say exactly how many officers are doubling up. Helle says the tactical change has pros and cons.

“It does put a stress on response times, but certainly gives you an advantage,” says Helle. “You have another set of eyes operationally that are observing that an officer may or may not be able to see. It’s voluntary, but most of the time, our guys buddied up with their teammates they’ve been working very closely with.”

Helle says he’s been communicating with SAPD Chief William McManus throughout the incidents in Dallas and Baton Rouge, and is pleased with SAPD’s efforts to keep officers safe and prepared.

He says many are armed with shotguns or ARs, thanks to a department policy that allows credentialed officers to bring their personal long guns or SAPD-issued weapons on patrol.

“So, at least they have firepower out there,” says Helle. “If they are confronted with something, they’re certainly prepared for that.”