Smith County approves creation of Sexual Assault Response Team

Local News

TYLER, Texas (KETK) – Smith County Commissioners on Tuesday approved a resolution to establish the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART).

The team is now required under a newly-created Texas law that mandates a SART be created in each county.

S.B. 476 requires the team to include an administrator of a sexual assault program, the district attorney or a designee, the chief of the largest police agency in the county and a sexual assault nurse.

Angela Faulkner, an assistant prosecutor with the DA’s office, said that she will meet in District Attorney Jacob Putman’s place but he will still be very involved in the team. The other Smith County SART members include:

  • Cheyenne Jones from the East Texas Crisis Center (Presiding Officer)
  • Smith County Sheriff’s Office
  • Tyler Police
  • Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners from CHRISTUS and UT Health

Faulkner said that the goal of the team will be developing protocols for investigating sexual assault cases under new Texas law. She said that it will “help agencies talk with one another and… get a collaborative response.”

She also stated that it will help make victims “aware of all resources available to them in the county.”

The SART will focus on adult victims only since there are already protocols in place for child sexual abuse cases.

The team will also collect data over a two-year period on sexual assault cases and then make a bi-annual presentation back to the Commissioners Court. For example, a report given in 2023 would have data from cases in 2021 and 2022. The next report would be given in 2025.

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