‘This is the roadmap’: Metro Health releases violence prevention plan

Five-year plan focuses on violence among youth, gun violence, sexual violence and domestic violence

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio public health officials unveiled a new, five-year plan they hope could help curb various forms of violence in San Antonio and Bexar County.

The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, which led the effort, hopes the San Antonio/Bexar County Violence Prevention Strategic Plan will serve as the “roadmap” for tackling four priority areas: violence among youth, gun violence, sexual violence and domestic violence.

While the San Antonio Police Department has its own ongoing plan to tackle violent crime, Public Health Administrator Erica Haller-Stevenson said the Metro Health plan targets “violence overall, which can include other behaviors that don’t qualify as a crime, as well as focusing on what gets somebody to the point that they are committing violence against another person.”

The 34-page plan includes broadly written strategies and dozens of recommended tactics to try through the end of 2028. They range from identifying families at high risk for domestic violence and child abuse to instituting live electronic monitoring on school campuses.

Metro Health won’t tackle each of the tactics itself, Haller-Stevenson said. It will “start shopping them around” to find other organizations to handle them. SAPD has committed to helping, she said, and Metro Health will look at what other city departments can do.

There’s also work for the local business and faith community, she said.

“This is different from what a lot of strategic plans look like, where you know who’s going to do exactly what and when. This is the roadmap,” Haller-Stevenson said. “And the roadmap is telling all of us how to point in the same direction at the same time so that we can achieve a larger impact.”

But how will anyone be able to tell if it’s working?

“You can’t always measure what did not happen,” Haller-Stevenson said. “Public health has been around for well over a hundred years. We look for declines long term, like a reduction in intimate partner homicides (and) a reduction in child abuse. And on the way to those long-term declines, we look at how people experience life. Are people directly being impacted by less crime in their neighborhood? Do they feel safer in their neighborhood? Do they feel like they can connect to the services and their government?”

It’s not entirely a city plan. Metro Health and SAPD were joined by St. John Baptist Church and the UTSA College of Health, Community, and Policy as “coordinating organizations.”

Work groups that included city and county employees, residents and members of community-based organizations drafted the strategies, tactics, and “success indicators” for each of the priority areas.

Read the full report below:

About the Authors

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.

Luis Cienfuegos is a photographer at KSAT 12.

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