With a confident smile, City Manager Sheryl Sculley officially announced her selection of former Police Chief William McManus for the position he left just nine months ago Thursday morning during a press conference at City Hall.
“It didn’t take me long to realize that my true place was here at the City,” McManus said, who left the San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) to become the senior security executive at CPS Energy. “I was actually getting comfortable there.”
But ultimately, he said, he missed working directly with the community.
McManus will return to lead the SAPD on Oct. 5, pending City Council approval on Oct. 1. The vote is expected to be an easy one for members of Council that lauded McManus’ work when he retired. Interim Chief Anthony Treviño, one of the top applicants for the position, will return to his position as McManus’ chief of staff.
When Sculley received word from McManus earlier this month that he was interested in the job, she added his name to her short list.
“Someone said to me yesterday, ‘Well, he didn’t apply for the position,’” Sculley said. “My response was, ‘He’s applied for the position for the past nine years and demonstrated his performance as chief of police.” McManus was her first major hire after she became City Manager in 2005.
Sculley notified the other candidates of her decision Wednesday night, she said. Word of McManus’ return spread quickly Wednesday afternoon.
McManus said he was in close contact with Treviño throughout his nine-month hiatus and spoke with him about coming back.
“We are attached at the shoulder philosophically and in every idea about police reform and police work,” McManus said. “It is my honor to work with him again. We’ve got some good things planned, so stay tuned.”
McManus led more than one round of applause for Treviño’s work and paused his speech to hug. “We’re not going to undo anything” Treviño has done, he said, including community outreach efforts.
He declined to go into detail, but McManus said he will be working with SAPD, City staff, and Council on a new plan to care for the city’s homeless population.
“Law enforcement, forever, has tried one method of dealing with the homeless and that’s by strong-arming them, by arresting them. That doesn’t work,” he said. All that does is spark controversy in the community, “so we’re going to deal with it in an entirely different way and I think it will be favorable to homeless advocates, favorable to the media who is going to be watching this, and of course favorable to the the homeless.”
Sculley said she will be working closely with McManus and the Council’s Public Safety Committee to work on specific policies.
At CPS Energy, McManus received a salary of $205,000 and would have been eligible for a substantial bonus. He will return to the same salary, $212,000, he was receiving when he left SAPD in 2014, Sculley said. He has signed an agreement that commits him to stay for at least two years, but she said he assured her he would stay even longer. There are no term limits for the position, police chiefs decide to leave, retire, or are asked to leave by the City Manager.
McManus will have plenty of work to do as he returns to lead the City’s police force.
“The national discussion going on about police reform is a serious, serious issue that effects every police department across the country,” he said. The department is also facing an increased amount of vacancies among the rank and file that will need to be addressed as well as the ongoing police union contract negotiations with the City. The later of which, he said, he will have limited involvement in. “The contract negotiations are being handled very well.”
It was a job offer at another city’s police department that led him to put his hat in the local ring, he said.
“I was about to go on an interview … but the reality of actually leaving the city … (that) is what really prompted me to call Sheryl,” he said. “If we get to work at a job we love, we’re blessed. If we get to work at a job that we love in a city that we love, we are truly, truly blessed. I consider myself truly, truly blessed.”
*Top image: City Manager Sheryl Sculley shakes the hand of former police chief William McManus. Photo by Scott Ball.