SAN ANTONIO - It was music to a mourning mother's ears: more help is on the way.
The spike in San Antonio's violent crimes became so noticeable, the state decided to intervene. Governor Greg Abbott doubled the number of DPS troopers on San Antonio Police Department's Violent Crimes Task Force.
The news pulled a positive reaction out of the mother of a 4-year-old De-earlvion Whitley, who shot and killed on the East Side. His murder still unsolved.
Every day for three months, Cyntwanisha Whitley relives the worst day of her life.
"I call them cowards," she said about the person or people who killed her son. "Right now I have no peace."
Drive-by shooters killed De-earlvion in July, riddling their Hub Street home with bullets.
Then, two weeks ago a 3- and 7-year-old were shot on the East Side while playing in front of their home on E. Commerce Street.
"It 100 percent has grabbed their attention because it's innocent kids, three, four, seven, 10. It's ridiculous," Whitley said.
Whitley believes cases like hers spurred Abbott to send more state troopers to help curb San Antonio's gang violence.
"It's bringing back my hope," she said.
About 15 more DPS troopers will join the roughly 15 that already work on SAPD's Violent Crimes Task Force. Chief McManus created the task force at the end of 2016, including other agencies like the Bexar County Sheriff's Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration, FBI, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, and the Department of Homeland Security.
Since January there have been 4,100 arrests, including more than 440 gang members.
Police Chief William McManus didn't ask the governor for more state troopers but he's welcoming any extra help which will add resources like aircraft, K-9s and analysts.
"I've seen more assistance from outside agencies than I have ever before," he said at a press conference Monday.
"I notice it. I see it. I see them riding every day and it has made a change," Whitley said about the recent increased police presence.
Still, Whitley knows if her community doesn't cooperate, extra officers may not be able to make a difference.
"People know what happened but they're scared to speak because they don't know what may happen with them," she said. "I used to be the mother where, I used to close my door too. I don’t have nothing to say. Nope, didn’t see nothing didn’t hear nothing, until this happened. This is what woke me up. Even if it’s just a little it may help. We need to say something."
She believes if everyone spoke up together, change might be possible. She sees no other choice until the innocent children of San Antonio are safe.
"You don’t want it to someday you’re standing in these shoes. You have to feel this pain, this hurt, because it’s not easy," she said, holding onto her two other sons.
Whitley and other East Side advocates agree that any new officers added to the task force are only helping if they engage in the community and build the trust. They also said any new push for change needs to continue long term so criminals get the message.
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