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Vacancy highlights importance of neighborhood SAFFE officers

SAN ANTONIO – A neighborhood fights for a new SAFFE officer after months of being without its liaison to the San Antonio Police Department.

The vacancy highlights the work SAFFE officers do in neighborhoods across the city.

In Terrell Heights on the city’s north side, homeowner Phil Marshall has noticed an uptick in crime.

"There's been suspicious vehicles. There's been some break-ins. There's been thefts,” he says.

The neighborhood used to take crime concerns to a designated SAFFE officer.

"There's a lot that the neighborhood can do in conduit with SAPD,” Marshall says.

Problem is, their officer got promoted a few months ago and his replacement hasn’t come on board.

"What we need to do is be able to align that information to one officer so we can actually really do something about it,” Marshall says.

The SAFFE unit stands for San Antonio Fear Free Environment.

"We are very plugged in,” says north substation SAFFE supervisor Sgt. Pat Michalec.

SAFFE officers are assigned to certain neighborhoods. They use social media and go to homeowner meetings. They also analyze calls to police, looking for trends.

"We prioritize those and then we attack accordingly,” Sgt. Michalec says.

On the north side, his SAFFE officers have caught graffiti vandals, busted drug houses and raided clubs that caused problems after hours.

"Our main goal is to get people's property back and put the bad guys in jail,” Sgt. Michalec says.

He gave us good news: SAPD has finally chosen a new SAFFE officer for the Terrell Heights area.

"He will be over in the unit hopefully soon,” Sgt. Michalec says.

Until then, Marshall is now in charge of a new committee his neighborhood association created to field crime complaints.

"We can then liaise with SAPD directly with one person with concise information that can help to stop crime in the area,” Marshall says.

Click here to find out how to call your SAPD substation and meet your neighborhood’s SAFFE officer.

By EMILY BAUCUM

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