TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Travis County Commissioners voted Tuesday to pass a resolution aimed at curbing gun violence.
Below are the key proposals included in the resolution:
- Creating a regional National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) center, so various local law enforcement agencies have access to a pooled database of ballistic evidence that can help investigators match shell casings from different crimes. Grant funding still needs to get secured to bring this portion of the plan to fruition.
- Launching a hospital-based violence intervention program.
- Funding for a community-based partner to provide additional services for people in diversion programs.
These initiatives were discussed during three separate briefings to commissioners, organized by Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza and Travis County Judge Andy Brown. National experts offered presentations related to the above three initiatives.
The resolution also directs Justice and Public Safety (JPS) to provide a report by March 1, 2023 that creates an “asset map” outlining all gun-violence prevention measures in the county and identifying measures to “better align these resources with the goal of reducing gun violence.”
When it comes to the NIBIN technology, Cathy Collins – a crime victim advocate with the Christi Center – says it’s monumental for the healing process for families.
“Waiting for ballistics for a year is very tough,” she said. “There’s no thought I believe in how hard that is for families. They want to go to trial, they want to have resolution, they want to know what’s gonna happen. They have all these questions.”
Another research-based initiative in the resolution involves gathering data as to “how and why homicides and community violence are happening in Travis County,” so county leaders can continue to mold future violence-prevention initiatives.
We asked DA Garza what will occur between now and March 1 behind the scenes to move the initiative forward.
“So over the next several months we’ll meet with community partners, law enforcement and other partners in government to hammer out the details,” he said.
In June, multiple city and county leaders held a gun violence summit to address the root of local gun crimes. Garza said this resolution stemmed from those discussions.
Before commissioners took up the vote, Brown brought up the most recent Medical Examiner’s Report, which indicated guns are the number one cause of non-accidental deaths in Travis County. In 2021, the county saw the highest number of homicides in the past 15 years.