The city of Killeen’s violent crime rate in 2017 was more than double the national average and 10 percent higher than the city’s rate the previous year, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, which released 2017 crime statistics this week.
The annual release from the bureau showed an increase in all categories of violent crime in Killeen — including murders, rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults — from 2016 to 2017, including a 33 percent jump in robberies.
In terms of crime rate, which the FBI calculates based on the number of crimes committed per 100,000 residents, the city’s violent crime rate of 766.2 in 2017 was more than double the national rate of 382.9.
Killeen’s violent crime rate was 695.3 in 2016.
Specific crime figures for cities like Harker Heights and Copperas Cove were not available in the FBI report.
In 2018, the Killeen Police Department under the leadership of Chief Charles “Chuck” Kimble, who was hired in September 2017, has touted an across-the-board drop in all violent crimes as part of yearlong crackdown effort.
According to the department, the city has seen a decrease in all categories of violent crime year-to-date — with aggravated assaults cut by more than half from the same date in 2017. On Wednesday, Kimble touted his mission of strengthening the department’s relationship with the community and Fort Hood as a main driver in the crime downturn.
“We kind of narrowed it down to a few things — the main one being relationships and teamwork,” Kimble said. “We knew that we couldn’t tackle this crime issue by ourselves.”
Kimble said the department has primarily focused on targeting repeat offenders and partnering with state and federal partners to take hardened criminals off the street. Ultimately, Kimble said, motivated and outspoken Killeen residents are making a difference.
The thing we cannot gloss over is the relationship with the community,” Kimble said. “As frustrated as we are, they were too, and they came to our door and said ‘what can we do to help?’”
One of the categories which has seen the biggest drop, according to the department, is homicides.
In 2018, the department has reported a 64 percent drop in murders from a 26-year high of 18 criminal homicides in 2017.
Kimble said pinning a reason for that decrease is difficult, given the random nature of murders.
“It’s hard to take credit for a number like that because it’s totally unpredictable,” he said. “We know that many homicides are caused by failed relationships — whether its domestic or drug related — so we just have to stay plugged in on those factors.”
Despite the reported drop in crime, the department is still in tight times financially.
The department has seen a wave of resignations from its patrol division after sweeping cuts to department vacancies in 2017 as part of a move to slice away expenditures in the city’s flagging budget.
In the 12 months between August 2017 and Aug. 31, the department reported 18 commissioned officer resignations. The city authorized the elimination of 22 vacant officer positions in September 2017.
To see a copy of the FBI’s report, visit www.ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2017.
FBI UCR data indicated:
2017 Bell, Coryell, Lampasas counties combined
Total violent crimes: 1,860
Aggravated assault: 1,089
Total property crimes: 10,247
Motor vehicle theft: 992
2017 Areawide crime rate per 100,000 residents
Total violent crimes: 424.3
Aggravated assault: 248.5
Total property crimes: 2,343.4
Motor vehicle theft: 226.5
Total violent crimes: 1,118
Aggravated assault: 636
Total property crime: 4,109
Motor vehicle theft: 566
Total violent crimes: 996
Aggravated assault: 617
Total property crime: 3,946
Motor vehicle theft: 351
Total violent crimes: 238
Aggravated assault: 105
Total property crime: 2,130
Motor vehicle theft: 238
Total violent crimes: 226
Aggravated assault: 96
Total property crime: 2,298
Motor vehicle theft: 185