By Victor O'Brien
Killeen Daily Herald
Killeen Police Chief Dennis Baldwin stood before the City Council on Tuesday for what council members decided will be his last scheduled monthly report.
The City Council had requested the monthly meetings to put focus on the city's high crime rates reported in the media at the end of 2007. Baldwin responded by delivering monthly briefings in 2008 that since January showed the tremendous success his department has achieved.
"It's good news for Killeen. Killeen has become a safer community," Baldwin said.
While Baldwin was pleased by the council's recommendation to switch to quarterly briefings, he added that KPD still has a tough job in front of it to maintain the progress. However, he is optimistic with the results he has seen so far.
Baldwin credited department changes, residents reporting crimes and City Council support with reducing crime.
"I don't know how many times we had citizens call us about a crime in progress, and we were able to respond to it and catch them (criminals) at the scene. That's not necessarily done on a regular basis in many communities. It was done many times in ours," Baldwin said.
Councilman Juan Rivera commended Baldwin's efforts and then proposed that a quarterly briefing would be enough since the monthly briefings show mostly the same news that crime is down.
Mayor Pro Tem Fred Latham polled the council, which agreed to switch to monthly briefings.
Baldwin's May crime briefing showed continued downward trends across the board, with murder and aggravated assaults being the only exceptions.
Baldwin reiterated that aggravated assaults, which rose by six incidents, are high because of family violence-related crimes, which he believes are rising because of military shifts and U.S. economy woes.
Overall, Killeen police have responded to six fewer violent crimes in 2008 than during the same period last year and 462 fewer nonviolent crimes.
Baldwin also reported that burglaries were down by 300 this year, from 1,007 last year to 707.
These successes have occurred even as Killeen's population continues to grow and KPD is busier, with calls-for-service increasing by 9.88 percent in 2008, Baldwin said.
Other information in Baldwin's briefing:
Phases I and II of Operation Blue Canopy led to 173 arrests, 445 citations and 1,693 citizen contacts.
KPD Connect, the citizen e-mail alert system, has registered 300 users thus far.
The civil engineering phase of construction has begun on the new police headquarters. Lee Louis Construction is heading the construction contracting operations.
The department's lateral hire program, which offers a $3,000 pay incentive for experienced officers to transfer to KPD, has saved the city $493,000 in training time, or $29,000 per officer.
Contact Victor O'Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7468.