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Grayson County 5 years ahead of new Senate law

Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 10:52 PM CST
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SHERMAN, Texas (KXII) - Texas Counties have less than 2 weeks left to get a Sexual Assault Response Team set up, thanks to Senate Bill 476, but that isn’t anything new here in Grayson County.

Senate Bill 476 went into effect in Texas September 1st.

It requires every county in the state of Texas to establish a Sexual Assault Response Team and a protocol for how to handle sexual assaults and how to help victims.

“It’s nice to be ready and to see everybody else catch up with Grayson County,” Shields said.

Grayson County’s sexual assault response team was founded 5 years ago.

“Those counties are really against the clock to get that framework built, in a good way because the victims definitely deserve and need all the players to be ready,” Shields said.

Grayson County SART will add quarterly meetings to comply with the new law.

The county commissioners appoint the members of the team, including chiefs of Denison and Sherman police departments, someone from the sheriff’s and district attorney’s offices, a Grayson Crisis Center representative and a trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, or SANE.

“Having so many different disciplines at the table covers all areas needed for our county,” Shields said.

“When they’re done in Denison or Sherman or out in the county for the Sheriff’s office those investigations should be done the same every time,” Grayson County District Attorney Brett Smith said.

The new law doesn’t change how the DA prosecutes rape, or how law enforcement investigates it.

Smith said it simply gets everyone on the same page, so they have a better shot at getting justice for the victim.

“The Grayson County Crisis Center and its team members have been doing it for five years, I think that’s a credit to the professionalism of the Grayson County Crisis Center,” Smith said.

“Things that need attention get attention and this definitely showed the fact that it needed to be done,” Shields said.

This new bill didn’t come with any new funding, so the crisis center will continue to rely on grants, fundraisers and donations to fund the SART and other important programs.

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