Hood County Court House

Photo by Wade Blake

The Commissioners Court, at its regular meeting Tuesday, voted to create a 12-member Sexual Assault Response Team (SART).

A SART had already been formed and its members had met prior to the court’s actions, but the vote formalized the group, according to Mary Flores, crime victim liaison for the Sheriff’s Office.

The court’s vote was 4-0. Precinct 2 Commissioner Ron Cotton was absent due to illness.

The action put the county in compliance with a new state law that went into effect in September.

Due to Senate Bill 476, passed by the 87th Legislature, every Texas County is now required to form a SART or be part of a regional one if they choose and have a population less than 250,000.

The purpose of the new law is to create a statewide infrastructure for addressing adult sex crimes locally.

SARTs are required to include among its members a prosecutor; a county sheriff or designee; the chief of the largest municipal law enforcement agency, or a designee; a mental or behavioral health provider within the county, or a representative from the public health department; and a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) or, if one does not exist, a representative from the largest healthcare provider in the county.

The group must meet at least quarterly and must develop a written protocol.

The SART must also report to its Commissioners Court no later than Dec. 1 of each odd-numbered year. Its report must include a copy of the SART’s written protocol and a summary of report numbers and case dispositions.