SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — Hays County has trained its Adult Sexual Assault Response Team as required by a new Texas law, county officials said Saturday morning.
Senate Bill 476, passed in the 87th Texas Legislative Session, requires counties to form such teams. The Hays County team is led by Precinct Commissioner 4 Walt Smith and also includes law enforcement, the criminal prosecutor’s office, a sexual assault nurse examiner and a mental health provider. , said a press release from the county.
The people who will fill these roles will be introduced at the March 8 Court of Commissioners meeting.
Smith said there are 6.3 million Texans who have “experienced some form of sexual assault,” but only 9.2 percent of victims reported it to police.
“Our response team will work to ensure offenders are held accountable while helping heal survivors,” Smith said. “The appointees will be responsible for creating a protocol that establishes local and regional processes to investigate and prosecute sexual assaults, identify and obtain medical and forensic care, mental health care and advocacy resources for survivors. “
Smith said the team will have to:
- Adjust their protocol to include those who choose not to report to the police,
- Distribute their protocol to local law enforcement and service providers, and
- Collect and maintain data on the number of sexual assaults reported to local law enforcement and the investigation, prosecution, and resolution of such offenses Participate in annual cross-training
“We recognize the work that needs to be done at the societal level and at the local level to rectify the problem,” Smith said. “We need a team that will create a system that will reduce re-traumatization, prioritize victim safety and provide survivors with the resources they need.