SAPD Crisis Response Teams fight domestic violence

CRTs respond to an average of 10,000 calls annually


Thirty-four hands covered a cardboard silhouette of a woman in the lobby of the San Antonio Police Department's South Side Substation.

Each hand represented a fatality from the last three years that was the result of domestic abuse.

Fighting to end that ongoing cycle of violence are the SAPD's Crisis Response Teams.

Each team is made up of one patrol officer and one civilian.

The teams respond to domestic violence calls, but each member has different responsibilities.

"While my partner can walk warrants and do all the legal stuff, I can personally just go in and advocate," said Maria Sinental, who has been a civilian CRT member for five years. "I usually stress to these victims that I'm not an officer. My main job is the victim. I'm here for you and that's it."

Police Chief William McManus said pairing a sworn officer with a civilian is what makes the teams successful.

"The civilian is an integral part in that whole equation," McManus said. "They are proactive in reaching out to family violence victims and helping them in any way that they can."

On average, the departments CRTs respond to 10,000 calls each year.

The help the teams provide occurs during the incident and afterwards through education and counseling - and not only for the victim.

"Sometimes you have that first-time offender, and if he gets in the process of understanding there is help, then he's not a second-time offender," said Lt. Rene Gallegos, SAPD Special Victims Unit Director .

For a list of recent stories Cory Smith has done, click here.

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