Changes to SAPD Crisis Response Team address domestic violence epidemic

Police chief says staff changes, future additions are all for efficiency, more advocacy

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio's rampant domestic violence problem has recently taken front and center for the city as well as law enforcement. Both have announced pledges and plans to lower record numbers.

That mission has touched San Antonio Police Department's Crisis Response Team, or CRT, which solely handles domestic abuse cases.

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Three years ago, KSAT rode along with CRT officers following up with and visiting abuse survivors to offer resources and confirm their safety.

A survivor described to them the terrifying moment her boyfriend said he was going to kill her.

At that point, they were patrol officers whose obligations included both patrol and advocacy. They also worked with civilian case managers who help with that advocacy component, including home visits.

In 2018, SAPD Chief William McManus replaced those patrol officers with detectives.

“Police officers cannot carry a case from start to finish because they are not detectives. They have to turn that case over. It was inefficient,” McManus said.

He said it is a quicker turnaround to get the case to the district attorney’s office.

“Which lessens the possibility ... the victim will be re-victimized in the meantime while we’re waiting on the DA to decide on the case,” McManus said.

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An SAPD officer who asked not to be identified told KSAT they were concerned those detectives wouldn’t be as involved in the advocacy side.

However, McManus and current members of CRT confirmed the detectives are doing follow-up visits, and those visits are about to become even more common.

“We hired 10 new officer positions to work out of that unit and it’s not because we weren’t doing it before, it’s not because of anything other than we want to enhance what we’re already doing,” McManus said.

SAPD’s CRT is currently comprised of 19 detectives and 20 civilian caseworkers.

In January, those 10 new patrol officers will be added to the team, mainly to do more of those follow-up visits, and accompany caseworkers.

"If the perpetrator may be there or may show up there, it's very dangerous. We would want a sworn officer to go with them," McManus said.

McManus acknowledged more follow-up work is needed in the overwhelming number of local domestic violence cases, which is why he pushed hard for the budget to include those ten additional patrol positions.

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