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Burnet and Llano counties to merge sexual assault response teams

Sunrise Beach Village Police Chief Laurie Brock

Sunrise Beach Village Police Chief Laurie Brock proposed merging the sexual assault response teams in Burnet and Llano counties during a regular meeting of the Llano County Commissioners Court on Nov. 28. Brock was a sex crimes investigator for 10 years with the Llano County Sheriff’s Office prior to joining the Sunrise Beach Village department. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

The Llano County Commissioners Court voted to merge its sexual assault response team with Burnet County’s team during its regular meeting Monday, Nov. 28. The merge will streamline administrative responsibilities and allow for further cooperation between regional agencies and departments to better support sexual assault survivors.

The Burnet County SART had already approved the merger internally.

Both counties created response teams in November 2021 after Texas Senate Bill 476 went into effect that September. The legislation required all counties to form response teams to handle sex crimes. 

By combining teams, Burnet and Llano counties will have a unified protocol for handling sexual assaults in the Highland Lakes region. 

Blanco County, which falls under the same District Attorney’s office as Burnet and Llano counties, is also invited to join the multi-county SART but has yet to vote on the matter. 

Sunrise Beach Village Police Chief Laurie Brock presented the merger to commissioners. She spearheaded the formation of SART in Llano County and recommended joining forces with the neighboring counties. 

“We’re trying to create protocol on how sexual assaults are dealt with by law enforcement agencies to make sure a consistent job is done,” Brock said at the Monday meeting.

Consistency will be bolstered by quarterly meetings of representatives from all law enforcement agencies, healthcare providers, victim services providers, and the 33rd and 424th District Attorney’s Office. 

Highland Lakes Family Crisis Center Training and Collaborations coordinator Ginnie Imrie will act as the head of the merged SART and be responsible for administering the response team’s protocols and meetings. 

The crisis center is the only victim support organization in the region and serves Burnet, Llano, Blanco, and Lampasas counties.

“(The merger) is important for the community of the Highland Lakes because having the team shows a proactive response to sexual assaults,” Imrie told after the meeting. “It shows that we are working to educate ourselves on how to better handle these situations when they happen.”