San Antonio crime data for the first three months of 2023 shows a mixed bag of increases and decreases in reported crimes compared to the same time period last year.

While reports of violent crimes and crimes against society are down nearly 16% and 8%, respectively, property crimes increased by 3.4% — largely driven by a spike in motor vehicle thefts.

The community reported 60% more vehicle thefts so far this year, nearly 4,300, compared to the first three months of 2022, which saw nearly 2,700 thefts, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said.

“Either nobody’s paying attention [to their cars] or the thieves are just that tricky,” McManus told city council’s Public Safety Committee on Tuesday.

Vehicle theft has increased across the country in recent years, he told reporters after the meeting, “I don’t have any evidence based reason why that’s happening.”

Kia and Hyundai cars and SUVs are particularly vulnerable to theft, which has been highlighted by social media and subsequent news coverage.

McManus said the department in June will undergo “a complete overhaul of the way we investigate property crimes” but declined to elaborate further when the San Antonio Report asked for more details.

“We’re still working that [out] within the department,” he said.

He said the bulk of the decrease in violent crime is attributed to a nearly 16% decrease in assaults; reported sex offenses were also down 17% compared to the same time period in 2022.

McManus wasn’t ready to attribute the drop to the city’s new Violent Crime Reduction Plan, but he noted that a report on the outcomes of the first 60 days of one part of that plan, the hotspot program, which deploys increased patrol officers to areas of high crime, will be publicly available in the coming weeks.

“My preliminary knowledge of the hotspot program is that we’ve got good news for the first quarter … but beyond that, I haven’t gotten the report and I can’t give you any particulars,” he said. “I don’t have any empirical data to show that and so anything I say would be anecdotal.”

Mental health response team

The committee also heard an update on the SA CORE program, which sends a team of a specially-trained police officer, a paramedic and a licensed clinician from the Center for Health Care Services to mental health calls that don’t involve a weapon.

The goal is to reduce arrests and increase access to mental health services.

CORE, which stands for Community Outreach and Resiliency Effort, launched about one year ago and the preliminary results are “very positive,” Deputy City Manager María Villagómez told the committee.

The CORE team, stationed out of the central police substation, operates seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. in the substation’s service area. The team received 1,465 calls for service between April 2022 and March 2023.

More than a third of those calls, 512, were resolved on-site without an arrest or emergency detainment, said Jessica Higgins, the city’s chief mental health officer.

“The team was able to deescalate the crisis and refer to [a] follow-up clinician,” Higgins said.

Less than a third of the calls resulted in an emergency detainment, meaning a person was involuntarily taken to a hospital.

About 13% of the CORE team’s calls resulted in a person voluntarily being transported somewhere to address a mental health or other need; 12% of calls were dropped because they could not locate the complainant; and another 12% of calls were canceled because another SAPD unit responded, Higgins said.

In comparison, of the more than 32,000 mental health calls received by 911 last year, about a quarter resulted in an interaction with a police officer, Villagómez said, with over four-fifths of those interactions resulting in an emergency detention.

The need for a specialized team emerged as part of the city’s police services review in 2020 in response to local protests in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Bexar County started a similar program in 2020, two months after a sheriff’s deputy killed a combat veteran experiencing a mental health episode. 

City staff recommends adding two more teams to the CORE program to cover the entire city, which would cost an additional $750,000 in fiscal year 2023 and $2.7 million in 2024.

Councilman Mario Bravo (D1) questioned whether three teams would be enough.

“I don’t want to be in a position where we didn’t scale faster because we didn’t provide enough financial resources,” Bravo said.

Villagómez said more details on the program’s scalability will be discussed at the council’s budget meeting on May 10.

The program has been welcomed by SAPD’s rank and file, McManus told the San Antonio Report.

“Everybody seems to feel it’s working well,” he said. “I think the question now is: how much do we expand it? Not if, but how much?”

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and mental health. Contact her at