© 2024 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

SAPD Officer Wants Sheriffs Office Top Job

A well-known San Antonio police officer is hoping to unseat Republican Sheriff Susan Pamerleau in next month's election.  Sgt. Javier Salazar says his law enforcement experience is one reason he thinks he's the best candidate.  

Javier Salazar and Susan Pamerleau will face off in a live TPR  debate at 3 p.m. Thursday on The Source.  TPR will also have interviews with the Libertarian and Green candidates running for sheriff.

In the background you can hear Javier Salazar speaking. “How many of you guys think you’re going to end up in a law enforcement career path of some sort, at some level,” he asks the class of about two dozen criminal justice students at Northwest Vista College. 

Salazar, who is 45, is a Bexar County native from Universal City and has spent over half his life, 23 years, as a police officer. He started out as a patrolman in 1993.

“Driving from call to call, handling calls for everything from barking dogs to ax-murderers, family disturbances, bank robberies, convenience store robberies," he says.

Salazar has worked in SAPD's narcotics and executive protection departments, and had served as the lead public information officer who responds to media questions.

“It was my job to talk about what we’re allowed to talk about, and not talk about what we’re not allowed to talk about and do it in a way that the average Joe can understand what it is we’re talking about,” Salazar says.

He now works in the police department's integrity unit which investigates criminal allegations against police officers.

“So it’s different than internal affairs because what they investigate is administrative violations," he says.

Salazar credits himself with starting the SAPD’s Coffee with the Cops community program where police and community members can meet. He says he believes the law enforcement profession is in crisis.

“Part of that crisis, a big part of it, is because we’re having a hard time connecting to the community that we serve.”

Salazar says if elected sheriff, as one of his top priorities he would spend more time on training.

“A good portion of that training is going to be geared towards human interactions to some extent, customer service-type training, crisis intervention training, mental health training, reality-based tactical training.”

Salazar disagrees with Republican Sheriff Susan Pamerleau who says her leadership experience in business and the military better qualifies her for the job.

“She’s made no secret of comparing her office to that of a landlord or a CEO of a big business," Salazar says. "Well, you’re not the CEO of big business. Big business – they don’t have to be transparent. Big business has less accountability; they look at profits and the bottom line. On the law enforcement side we look at human lives, we deal in human capital and emotion, real, raw human emotion, so that’s where I’m coming from."

Salazar has also criticized the Pamerleau for the higher than average number of suicides at the county jail. Pamerleau has implemented a process of questions to detect if people being booked into the jail have mental illness or are considering suicide. Salazar doesn't think it goes far enough. He says thoughts of suicide could develop months after booking.

“Now all of a sudden we’ve got somebody that’s got some issues that maybe nobody knows about, cause he’s embarrassed because his wife just told him she’s found somebody else.  He’s not going to talk to somebody about that voluntarily. And if there’s nothing proactively being done we’re not going to catch it until that person is unfortunately hanging from a fixture in his cell,” he says.

He wants to place a team of mental health officers in the jail.

“These officers would come from within the detention officer population. They have that detention officer skill set and mind set, and they’re out constantly monitoring the inmate population for signs of suicide, suicidal thoughts, or suicidal tendencies. Then is when we’re going to make a bigger difference.”

Salazar says he also disagrees with the sheriff’s take on mandatory overtime. The sheriff requires 48 hours per week for jail staff which she says is due to seasonal jail population which is higher in the summer. Salazar claims the overtime has been year-round.

Salazar is one of four candidates on the ballot and hopes his knowledge of the community will convince voters to give him a chance in office.

“I love this place. It’s my home. And like I mentioned, I’ve been protecting and serving it more than half my life and I’m going to continue to serve it for the rest of my life. I’ve got the best interest of every Bexar County resident at heart. They’re like my family to me and I’m going to do right by them. I just want that opportunity.”

According to his campaign website, Salazar says he will increase the manpower and visibility of deputies, and work with other agencies against human trafficking, ID theft and family violence.

Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules