Neighbors have mixed reaction to SAPD’s crackdown on violent crime ‘hot spots’

SAPD Chief William McManus praised program originally designed by UTSA researchers

SAN ANTONIO – A program to crack down on so-called violent crime “hot spots” in San Antonio is getting mixed reactions from people who live in one of those neighborhoods.

Working with researchers from the University of Texas at San Antonio, the San Antonio Police Department began instituting a new strategy to crack down on crimes including murder, aggravated assault and robbery in January of last year.

Phase one of the program involved SAPD identifying more than 100 areas in the city where those crimes occurred often.

Officers then made their presence known by showing up in those areas, sometimes sitting in their patrol cars with their lights activated or walking through the neighborhood.

In reviewing the first year of the program’s operation, Chief William McManus made it clear he was pleased with what he has seen so far, namely a decrease in violent crime statistics.

“You can’t argue with the results,” McManus told reporters.

The police department declined to name the problem areas where the program was implemented.

A spokeswoman told KSAT 12 News that some of the locations could be targeted for future crackdowns. Disclosing that information could present a safety issue for officers, the spokeswoman said.

However, one area that was revealed as a site for phase two of the program was the 1300 block of Rigsby Avenue.

John Jefferson, who lives in an apartment complex there, said he has noticed a difference recently.

“It has improved, you know, rather than what we had in the past,” Jefferson said. “We do have police patrols. We have security patrols and so forth. And I think it’s getting better.”

Jefferson said he no longer feels threatened by some of the crimes that had previously plagued the area.

“You had a whole array of things,” Jefferson said. “You had people throwing guns away. You had people drug dealing.”

Virginia Rangel, meanwhile, isn’t so sure much has changed. She still considers the neighborhood to be a hot spot for crime.

“There are two bullet holes in the house on the corner. I have a bullet hole in my house,” Rangel said.

Rangel said although the “daily gunfire” seems to have quieted down in the last few weeks, she still hears shootings in the area from time to time.

She also said she would like to see the crack down continue.

Phase two of the program, which will target that specific neighborhood and possibly others, will involve tackling the root causes of the violent crime problems.

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About the Authors

Katrina Webber joined KSAT 12 in December 2009. She reports for Good Morning San Antonio. Katrina was born and raised in Queens, NY, but after living in Gulf Coast states for the past decade, she feels right at home in Texas. It's not unusual to find her singing karaoke or leading a song with her church choir when she's not on-air.

Azian Bermea is a photojournalist at KSAT.

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