When family violence becomes the norm in Copperas Cove, we as a city have lost our identity — not only as the “city built for family living,” but as a city with small town values.

Those values are what once drew God-fearing, family-oriented people to Cove.

When I was first assigned to Fort Hood in the early 1980s, a decent, respectable, diverse and safe place to raise my family was my first priority. In seeking information to make a responsible choice, I was told by some old-timers in the area that if I wanted to raise hell, I should choose to live in Killeen or Harker Heights. If I wanted to raise a family, I should select Copperas Cove.

The options within a responsible driving distance were few. Harker Heights, Killeen and Copperas Cove were the most logical choices. At the time, Harker Heights had too many bars with the inherent nightlife and problems that accompany that atmosphere and far too few stores and restaurants.

In spite of its close proximity to Fort Hood, Killeen was reputed to have far too much crime, including open prostitution and illegal drugs for me to consider as a venue to raise my family.

Because of its motto and its small town ambience, I opted for Copperas Cove. I raised my family here in a safe and wholesome atmosphere.

When grown, half of my children remained in Cove and the other half scooted off for higher education and a career. To the credit of Copperas Cove, the half that scooted is working toward an eventual return to the city to raise a family. The motto continues to stick.

Times have changed in the last 30-odd years. All of the Fort Hood-area cities have grown in size and population. Killeen’s population has exploded, as has its retail demographic. The once overt prostitution problem has become less obvious, but crime as a whole has kept pace with the increase in population.

Harker Heights has grown exponentially, both in population and in the business environment. High-end housing draws professionals and upper-level military personnel to its inner boundaries and a larger, efficient police department adequately keeps crime in check.

Copperas Cove continues to be my choice for the best place to live, even with the increased population and crime that comes from increased opportunities. With progress comes increased crime. More retail outlets and housing give thieves more opportunities to commit crimes. These are expected.

What isn’t expected is the inordinate frequency of crimes against family, particularly violent ones.

Per capita, Copperas Cove has the highest number of family violence crimes in the area. This statistic is apparent nearly every day in the Killeen Daily Herald. Family violence assaults, once infrequent, have emerged as the predominant crime in Cove. This startling statistic must reverse.

I’m throwing down the gauntlet of challenge in front of local churches, government agencies, fraternal organizations, veteran’s organizations and the courts to address this unacceptable growing trend.

Churches can address family values and harmony in sermons. Government agencies can address family violence by overtly advertising available services in more than the local telephone book.

Veterans organizations can intervene through counseling and referral services.

The courts can address this growing trend by assessing harsh penalties against repeat perpetrators and forcing violators into mandatory family counseling. This disgusting crime must be reversed using any legal means available to us.

Assaults

Six assaults were reported to police this week, all of them family violence assaults. While this number is down slightly from recent weeks, it remains at an unacceptable and shameful level. I believe that many more assaults occurred that were not reported.

  • An assault by contact/family violence was reported Dec. 7 in the 1200 block of Urbantke Court.
  • An assault with bodily injury/family violence was reported Dec. 7 in the 2200 block of Terry Drive.
  • As assault by contact/family violence was reported Dec. 8 in the 300 block of Ridge Street.
  • An aggravated assault with a deadly weapon/family violence was reported Dec. 9 in the 2400 block of Joseph Drive. Crimes such as this one can easily and quickly morph into an even more serious crime.
  • An assault with bodily injury/family violence was reported Dec. 10 in the 300 block of Janelle Drive.
  • As assault with bodily injury/family violence was reported Dec. 10 in the 200 block of Northern Dove Lane.

Theft/burglary

Ten thefts and two burglaries were reported this week. Five-fingered shopping is prevalent at this time of year. To keep it, take it, hide it, lock it.

  • A theft under $100 was reported Dec. 8 in the 200 block of Cove Terrace.
  • A burglary of a habitation was reported Dec. 8 in the 900 block of South 19th Street.
  • A burglary of a vehicle was reported Dec. 8 in the 900 block of South 19th Street.
  • The theft of Christmas decorations was reported Dec. 7 in the 900 block of Robertson Avenue. It appears the Grinch is loose in our town.
  • The theft of a ring valued at over $6,000 was reported Dec. 8 in the 400 block of Skyline Drive.
  • A sign was reported stolen Dec. 8 in the 2400 block of Veterans Avenue.
  • The theft of general merchandise was reported stolen from a retailer in the 2700 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.
  • A theft of currency and electronics from a residence was reported Dec. 9 in the 1300 block of Dryden Avenue.
  • A purse was reported stolen Dec. 10 in the 900 block of Hackberry Street.
  • The theft of lawn furniture was reported Dec. 10 in the 400 block of East Avenue D.
  • A theft of electronics was reported Dec. 10 in the 200 block of Lincoln Avenue.
  • The theft of a laptop computer was reported Dec. 10 in the 1100 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.

Other crimes

  • Evading arrest using a vehicle and racing on a highway were reported Dec. 6 in the 400 block of Lutheran Church Road. An arrest was eventually made.
  • Possession of marijuana less than 2 ounces was reported Dec. 6 in the 2500 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190. An arrest was made.
  • Harassment was reported Dec. 8 in the 2200 block of Farm-to-Market 3046.
  • Criminal mischief was reported Dec. 8 in the 2900 block of Starlight Drive.
  • Criminal mischief and harassment were reported Dec. 9 in the 500 block of Ridge Street.
  • Criminal mischief was reported Dec. 10 in the 300 block of North Ninth Street.
  • Criminal mischief was reported Dec. 12 in the 1200 block of Sublett Avenue. A trailer sustained damage valued at $500.
  • Criminal mischief was reported Dec. 12 in the 2400 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190. Damage to a vehicle was estimated at $700.
  • Forgery of a government document was reported Dec. 8 in the 1600 block of Veterans Avenue.
  • A forgery of money was reported Dec. 9 in the 500 block of Town Square.
  • Forgery of a government document was reported Dec. 10 in the 800 block of North Fourth Street.
  • Forgery of a government document was reported Dec. 10 in the 800 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.
  • A second forgery of a government document was reported Dec. 10 in the 800 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.
  • A minor in possession of tobacco was reported Dec. 9 in the 1300 block of Dryden Avenue.

John Vander Werff is a 30-year veteran of law enforcement, with a decade in city and county law enforcement and 20 years with state police.

John Vander Werff is a 30-year veteran of law enforcement and a Copperas Cove resident.​

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