By Lisa Morton
A Special Meeting of the Culberson County Commissioners’ Court was held last Monday and they heard from Marisa Quintanilla from the Rio Grande Council of Governments. Ms. Quintanilla was at the meeting to provide information to support a county resolution for the formation of a Regional Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) in collaboration with Hudspeth County. The Center Against Sexual and Family Violence (CASFV) in El Paso is the closest primary provider of all sexual assault services. At a quarterly meeting of the CASFV, a review of these cases showed there were not enough resources in place to properly process adult sexual assault victims.
On September 1, 2021, Texas required that all 254 counties have a SART that includes a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner working in cooperation with the mental health provider (CASFV). Prosecutorial jurisdiction for sexual and family violence falls under the jurisdiction of the El Paso District Attorney. Sheriff Oscar Carrillo designated himself and Commissioner Gilda Morales to the SART, with the possibility of designating other professionals as required by the district attorney.
Expenses that may be incurred include safe transportation costs to and from El Paso for victims. Per Ms. Quintanilla, in order to cover all costs involved, the County needs to show that it is the intent of Hudspeth/Culberson Regional SART to submit a grant application for funding through the Public Safety Office within the Office of the Governor Criminal Justice Division, Victims of Crime Act (VOCA)-Direct Services.
Sheriff Carrillo reported to the court a list of problems his department has been facing as a direct result of the status of the Border Crisis in the county. The county can offset these expenses from the $420,000 Operation Lonestar Grant once it becomes active. Numerous resources are being deployed to the area under Operation Lonestar with the Texas National Guard being deployed this month to provide assistance to TDPS and USBP agencies. Sheriff Carrillo said there is already a major issue with inter-agency communication citing several law enforcement pursuits on city streets, creating a liability with the residents of Van Horn. Judge Urias agreed to help with the communication issue at the state level.
It was determined that two vacant Constable offices assigned ORI numbers as legal authorities to access the Criminal Justice System, should be retired to meet 90% compliance necessary for the District Attorney to modify these cases for final disposition. COG representative Marisa Quintanilla said her office will help draft a letter to the state to suspend these ORI numbers issued to constables so the DA can request permission to handle the disposition of these cases with the TDPS.
In other matters before the court:
Approved invoice from Blooms & Bliss Designs in the amount of $1,860.00 for Christmas decorations services at the courthouse. Judge Carlos Urias and Commissioner Cornelio Garibay abstained from voting.
Approved agreement with Marbek Services LLC for administrative services related to the American Rescue Plan Act Funding Grant.
Approved increase of $3,500.00 to come from the contingency fund for Appreciation Dinner expense.