Denton County commissioners created a sexual assault response team to assist people maneuvering the legal system and to develop countywide protocols.

The sexual assault response team, known as SART, and its inaugural members will be tasked with writing protocols for local and regional processes for investigating and prosecuting sexual assaults, according to the resolution. These protocols will be shared with local law enforcement agencies.

“I think it's important that we recognize these victims and that we do everything we can to help them,” Commissioner Dianne Edmondson said during a Nov. 30 Denton County Commissioners Court meeting. “I know we are doing a good job already here in Denton County. This will just enhance our efforts and make us much more responsive.”

During the meeting, commissioners appointed the first SART members to represent Denton County. The team will consist of the people listed below.

  • The chief administrators of the sexual assault program: Lori Nelson and Daysia Pink

  • A prosecutor with jurisdiction over adult sexual assault cases: Assistant District Attorney Michael Dickens

  • The county sheriff or its designee: Denton County Sheriff Capt. Ed Barrett

  • The chief of the largest municipal law enforcement agency or its designee: Denton Police Sgt. Trent Jones

  • A sexual assault nurse examiner/forensic examiner that provides exams within the county: Sonia Sims and Cindy Burnette

  • A mental or behavioral health provider: Brittany Waymack

“All of us are eager to get started and to look at the different ways that we can improve the system here in the county,” Nelson said during the meeting.

The team will also be responsible for collecting and maintaining data on the number of sexual assaults that are reported to local law enforcement agencies and the subsequent investigations, according to the resolution.

SART was created in response to a law passed during the 87th legislative session, which requires counties to form these response teams.

During the legislative process, it was determined that about 32% of all reported sexual assaults in a five-year period resulted in an arrest, according to the resolution. In 2020, more than 30,000 sexual assaults were reported to law enforcement agencies.

“I’m excited about that team and the good efforts they’re going to be working on,” Denton County Judge Andy Eads said.