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Sheriff Salazar talks about crime prevention, task force formation

Jeff B. FlinnMay 14, 2019

The formation of a Violent Crimes Task Force has helped reduce crime throughout Bexar County and, specifically, in county regions within the Metrocom.

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar on Saturday spoke to a packed house at Whataburger on FM 78 at Walzem Road as part of the Sheriff’s Coffee Break series being held around the county.

The third stop in the “Coffee Break” series brought the sheriff and several other Bexar County Sheriff’s Office employees to the Whataburger that was the scene of a fatal shooting 18 months earlier.

Salazar walked the crowd for about 10 minutes before speaking to the standing-room-only audience. He then fielded questions and continued his meet-and-greet afterward.

One of the main concerns around this area is crime, Salazar said, and he recounted a recent shooting that occurred nearby.

“It was a frightening case for all involved, certainly for the poor lady whose door caught one of those random bullets,” Salazar said. “She’s just minding her own business inside her home … and yet, here we are and crime is finding its way, literally, right to her front door.”

He said the county has been able to intervene with the formation of the Violent Crimes Task Force.

“We’ve made some strides. We’re not quite where we want to be just yet, but we’ve made some strides,” Salazar said. “The crime rate is down 9.58 percent in this area compared to last year. Ventura, the area I’m talking about (with the random shooting), is actually down 35.4 percent from last year. We’re definitely making strides where we need to be making them.”

Salazar said the task force was launched shortly after he took office with just Bexar County Sheriff’s deputies and San Antonio Police Department officers.

“We took SAPD’s street crimes people and combined them with the BCSO’s street gang-type folks and … and sent them in to where the hotspots are,” Salazar said. “DPS heard about it and they said, ‘We want to play, too,’ so they sent a bunch of troopers. It started picking up some synergy, the way things like this do when they realize some success.”

As a result, total property crime for the entire county is down 11 percent, while violent crime is down 22 percent. “Again,” Salazar said, “that’s due in part to the work this Violent Crimes Task Force is doing.

“We’re not looking for Class C misdemeanors, we’re not looking for homeless folks, we’re looking for violent criminals,” he added.

The presence of the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office East substation on Loop 1604 at Rocket Lane, which opened in November, and a second station on the West Side has helped the sheriff’s office cut down crime, especially when responding to calls.

“Because of those substations, because we’re more evenly dispersing our manpower, the troops are closer to the 9-1-1 calls,” he said. “Overall, our response to 9-1-1 calls is 18 percent faster than it was last year.”

Salazar addressed several questions that came up while he was talking with Whataburger patrons.

“I appreciate you all coming out, not only to hear what we have to say but giving us an opportunity to hear what you have to say,” he said. “We’ve already talked to someone about a traffic issue at one of the schools that we’ll be mentioning to Chief (Teresa) Ramon over at Judson ISD.

“We talked about one of the local hotel/motels that might need some special attention from us, and we’re certainly willing to do that,” he said, adding, “We hear the genuine concerns here. It’s a good neighborhood overall, but stuff is creeping up and we want to get it in check.”

Johnny Garcia, Bexar County Sheriff’s Office public information officer, said the Sheriff’s Coffee Break series, held in conjunction with Whataburger locations throughout the county, is designed “to inform community members of some of the resources and good things we’ve got going on at the sheriff’s office.”

When the East substation first opened, its reach was limited to patrol.

“Initially, it was just our patrolmen,” Garcia said. “Now, we’ve reallocated resources to both the new east and west substations, including our investigators, and some of our SCORE units are now operating out of these substations. It’s helped out by reducing response times into calls coming out of these locations.”

Garcia spoke of the shooting that occurred at the FM 78 Whataburger in November 2017.

“That incident happened late in the evening, and we responded within minutes,” he said. “Unfortunately someone’s life was lost. But yes, it does serve as a grim reminder that violence is always happening, so we have to remain vigilant in reducing crime as much as possible.”

jflinn@express-news.net

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