By Victor O'Brien
The Cove Herald
Crimes calculated by the FBI have decreased in Copperas Cove, but the whole picture shows other crimes, including DWIs, drug violations and runaways are on the rise.
Crime kept declining through May, continuing a positive 2008 trend when 187 fewer incidents were reported among categories collected by the FBI's Uniform Crime Report (UCR).
Numbers show Copperas Cove is a growing community responding positively to population increases and the crime that goes with it.
UCR crimes declined 20 percent through May 2009 in Cove. Police received 101 fewer reports than during the same period in 2008, department numbers showed.
The numbers defy conventional wisdom that people steal more and commit more overall crime during economic downturns, said Lt. Daniel Austin, Cove police spokesman.
Cove's crime decline coincides with improvements in Killeen and the nation overall. However, reports of aggravated assaults increased sharply in Cove in 2008 and through May 2009, a
problem experienced by departments both local and nationwide.
Several crime categories, not factored in UCR statistics, showed increases in early 2009. Sexual offenses rose 43 percent from 14 to 20 reports; drug violations increased 82 percent from 62 to 113 reports; driving while intoxicated reports increased 84 percent from 63 to 116; and instances of runaways increased 84 percent from 19 to 35 reports.
Lori Hix, a juvenile and sex crimes investigator for Cove police, believes more sex offenses are being reported because of greater education and awareness.
A few decades ago, women and children were less likely to report sex crimes, but now speak out because they realize they are not alone in being victims. Education in schools teaches children more about what to do if abuse happens, she said.
Hix is uncertain what caused the sharp increases in runaways reported this year.
"I would like to step back and say economics or maybe kids' parents are gone to Iraq, but I don't think it's any of those," Hix said. "I think the kids in today's world think 'I don't like what you said so I'll just leave ...'"
Those children usually return home when forced from a friend's house or simply miss the comforting food and showers at home, Hix said.
Rises in DWIs and drug violations stem from more patrol officers, Austin said. The department's officer strength is higher than it's been during the last five years.
As a result, more officers are on the streets initiating traffic stops, where the bulk of drugs not seized during organized crime investigations are found.
"We're slowly but surely building it back up so we're able to concentrate on traffic enforcement. With traffic comes a lot of dope," Austin said.
More patrol officers also mean Cove can participate in state and nationwide enforcement programs such as Click It or Ticket. Those programs put more officers on the road making more traffic stops, which uncover more drugs and drunken drivers.
Contact Victor O'Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7468.