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Task Force Presents Plan To Reduce Domestic Violence In San Antonio

Left to Right: Bexar County Judges Peter Sakai and Monique Diaz, Assistant City Manager Colleen Bridger, San Antonio Metropolitan Health District Violence Prevention Manager Jenny Hixon
Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio
Members of the domestic violence task force present year one of a five year plan to combat domestic violence in San Antonio.

Love is.

That is the name of San Antonio’s comprehensive, five year plan to combat domestic violence.

Assistant City Manager Colleen Bridger presented the details of the first year of the plan to the city council on Wednesday.

She said this plan grew directly from talking to the people who have been impacted by family violence.

"This comprehensive plan came together as a result of speaking with hundreds of people in the community to make sure what we put together was what they needed," she said.

While this plan is ultimately a five year plan, Bridger said they've only hammered out the specifics of the first year so far.

“It’s got year one, who will do what by when, by quarter," she explained, "and we are really committed to staying accountable to the people that we’re doing this work on behalf of and accountable to the elected officials who asked for this plan.”

Six committees will put the 2020 plan into action. The DA's office will handle the prosecution committee. There is a judicial committee, a committee for changes in law enforcement and a committee for health care. Each committee has quarterly and annual goals to meet during this first year.

Bridger said the overarching goal of "Love Is" is threefold.

“To intervene as early as possible in the prevention of domestic violence, to improve the processes that we utilize to respond to domestic violence, and make sure that families have all of the resources and support that they need in order to heal from domestic violence and move on,” Bridger said.

San Antonio has set aside $1 million in its 2020 budget to fight family violence.

Local officials offered a range of comments and thoughts throughout Wednesday's discussion.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg recalled during his first ride-along with SAPD officers, just about every call to which they responded was related to family violence. He said the crisis affects every part of the community, and he welcomed the plan.

“I think it will give us clear direction on how we are allocating our resources to non profits and other agencies are involved in domestic violence outreach prevention and crisis management," he said. 

Starting Friday, the city will accept proposals from non-profits on solutions such as the potential creation of a 24-hour domestic violence crisis hotline.

District 5 Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales asked about what could be done regarding firearms in the possession of those accused of domestic violence.

Judge Monique Diaz pointed out that every day she orders that people who are the subject of protective orders - like those in domestic violence cases - are not to possess weapons. But she was worried there was not a system in place to make sure all weapons were accounted for. Diaz told Gonzales the commission's judiciary committee was working on potential solutions.

She says that’s one solution the commission’s judiciary committee is working on and gave examples on what other cities were doing. 

"When we have these individuals come through our court process we are going to have to ask both the victims and perpetrators under oath to tell us what weapons are in the home – specially fire arms- and we’re will make note of that and that will be included in our court orders," she said 

SAPD Police Chief William McManus emphasized the difficulty in ensuring every weapon was removed from the homes of domestic violence defendants and victims, even when a judge has ordered it.

City Council was spurred to action earlier this year when a report found that San Antonio is the most dangerous large city in Texas for women.

Bonnie Petrie can be reached at Bonnie@TPR.org and on Twitter at @kbonniepetrie.
Joey Palacios can be reached at Joey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules.

Bonnie Petrie can be reached at Bonnie@TPR.org and on Twitter at @kbonniepetrie
Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules