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Advocate For Survivors Of Domestic Violence Praises Free Video Doorbell Plan

An advocate for survivors of family violence praised a partnership between the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office and the San Antonio Police Department to give high tech doorbells to people at risk of being attacked.

The doorbells include high definition cameras and motion detectors, and they film anyone who approaches a house. The company Ring gave law enforcement 150 doorbells, and police had complete freedom to distribute them however they wished.

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said he and SAPD Chief William McManus decided to give them to a vulnerable population.

“Let’s give them out to people who have protective orders. Let’s give them out to victims of domestic violence that have got safety concerns, as an added layer of protection,” Salazar said.

Patricia Castillo, executive director of the P.E.A.C.E. Initiative, said she thinks this was a good plan. Doorbell cameras may act as a deterrent to abusers who stalk, harass and harm their victims.

P.E.A.C.E. Initiative Executive Director Patricia Castillo speaks at a San Antonio town hall meeting about intimate partner violence.
Credit Bonnie Petrie | Texas Public Radio
P.E.A.C.E. Initiative Executive Director Patricia Castillo speaks at a San Antonio town hall meeting about intimate partner violence.

“This may be one way of making them think twice before they come and try to tear your door down, if they know they’re being videotaped while doing it,” Castillo said.

Castillo also said the doorbells may help with evidence gathering.

“Whatever tools we can put in our tool kits to build these cases and send a powerful message to perpetrators that their behavior will not be tolerated, I think we should use them,” Castillo said.

Castillo noted, however, that lower income families may not be able to use the free doorbells because Ring is a subscription service and requires wifi, two things they may not be able to afford.

“I wish we could find a sponsor to cover that aspect of the program. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?” she mused.

Survivors of family violence who are considered most at-risk will be given priority to receive a doorbell.

Bonnie Petrie can be reached at and on Twitter at @kbonniepetrie.

Copyright 2020 Texas Public Radio. To see more, visit Texas Public Radio.

Bonnie Petrie is a proud new member of the news team at WUWM. She is a reporter who - over her twenty year career - has been honored by both the Texas an New York Associated Press Broadcasters, as well as the Radio, Television and Digital News Association, for her reporting, anchoring, special series production and use of sound.
Bonnie Petrie
Bonnie Petrie covers bioscience and medicine for Texas Public Radio.