By Jimmie Ferguson
Killeen Daily Herald
Question: What is your impression
of crime in Killeen?
Answer: While most communities see modest increases and decreases in their population over an extended period, Killeen is a unique community. Its
population has increased considerably over the past several years. This
explosive growth in our population affects reported crime and how police services are delivered.
Q: What are your goals to make the department better?
A: Our main focus is to combat crime and improve the quality of life for our community.
When one looks at department goals, he or she should understand that many are interrelated improving human capital, improving public perception of the police department, enhancing the organizations performance, improving services to the public and advancing the deployment of technology.
Each of these five goals is supported by specific objectives that should bring about a positive outcome.
Q: Will better technology help the department?
A: Many advances have been made in police technology. The challenges are more in how to pay for the [it].
The equipment is usually for a specific use and can be very costly ... the Killeen Police Department has done a pretty good job in staying current.
Q: When you took over, what were the major problems?
A: First, there was a lot of internal strife.
Second, there was no policing strategy, and third, there was no viable long-term strategic plan. Each has been addressed.
For example, personnel issues are being addressed in a more consistent manner and the focus is now more on the mission and not one another. We have implemented CompStat, which is short for computer statistics, as our policing strategy and are seeing positive results. And a five-year strategic plan was developed allowing for better measuring of our successes and setbacks.
Q: Do you think the police department is capable of dealing with the present crime in Killeen?
A: Clearly, the answer is yes. The quality of the people, their experience and training, the use of advanced technology and equipment, and the sheer dedication and professionalism of department personnel puts this department heads above the rest.
Many of the things that were lacking in the department were addressed by City Council. So, now we need to implement those new programs and services to see their true impact.
Q: When you took the department over, how many officers were authorized and what shortage did you have?
A: In January 2004, we had about 167 police officers authorized and 45 civilians. Today, we have 204 police officer positions authorized (includes a 5 percent overhire, which equates to 10 positions), with 75 civilians.
It is important to note that as a part of our five-year plan, we are civilianizing many positions held by police officers to return those officer positions to enforcement or investigative duties.
Q: It has been perceived in the past that money has not been there for police officers and firefighters and that these two entities have been paid for with the money left over.
A: My personal experience as chief of police is that the city manager and city council have placed public safety at the forefront. I think the explosive growth of the city brings about many challenges, especially when it comes to funding new programs and services.
Personally, I would rather focus on where we are going rather than to dwell on the past.
Q: How do you retain officers?
A: Retaining officers is very important to meet our goals. I think the city council took a major step in addressing employee turnover by approving several new programs aimed at retaining police officers.
For example, an adequate pay adjustment, tuition reimbursement, sign-on bonus for licensed police officers and increasing the authorized strength of the department should have a positive impactQ: How is the department dealing with filling vacancies?
A: Not counting the overhire positions, we need to fill 38 police officer positions.
Fifteen police officer positions, two sergeant positions, and two civilian manager positions, that freed up two police officer positions, were authorized in this years budget. The two sergeants have already been promoted, the two civilian manager positions have already been hired, and we are hiring 19 officers by the first of the year 17 of which will be starting the Police Academy in January. The remaining vacancies should be filled by midyear.
Q: What can convenience store owners do to cut back on robberies?
A: Work with the police departments Crime Prevention coordinator. There are a number of precautions a business could take to reduce the likelihood of being robbed. Businesses are encouraged to contact Tammy Moseley, the Crime Prevention coordinator at 501-8805.
Q: What about the gangs?
A: While gangs exist in Killeen, it is not to the extent of what is commonly seen in larger cities such as Los Angeles or New York. Nevertheless, gang activities are of concern to the Killeen Police Department, and we continue to address them.
Q: What happened to the KPD Gang Unit?
A: Over the past decade, federal funding for specialized units such as anti-gang units was made available to municipalities. Usually, only a small handful of officers were assigned to these units, still requiring support from other units such as crimes against persons, property, or organized crime. Federal dollars eventually dried up, and a review of our departments organizational structure was made to maximize its effectiveness.
It should be noted that before federal dollars were available for these units, it was not uncommon for the Organized Crime Units to handle such investigations. After all, gang activity is organized criminal activity, which is what an Organized Crime Unit is supposed to investigate.
After the departments organizational review, it was determined that the gang unit should be combined with the Organized Crime Unit. Their mission was similar; it enhanced their resources, and allowed for better intelligence sharing. Our goal is to return to the day when gang-related knowledge and experience is not confined to just a handful of detectives, but rather the entire Organized Crime Unit. It will take awhile to achieve this objective because federal funding lasted for several years creating this void of knowledge and experience.
Q: Does Fort Hood influence gang problems?
A: Many variables influence the gang and drug problems in Killeen, and Fort Hood is one such variable. That said, I believe Fort Hood authorities are working with area agencies in a proactive manner to combat the problems. A good example is our intelligence sharing efforts with Fort Hood. They have improved considerably this past year.
Q: Does KPD work with other cities that have gang and drug problems to get some tips or maybe track down those who bringing their problem to Killeen?
A: We have a very good intelligence network that extends well beyond Killeen. Without going into a lot of detail, many cases are worked and solved with the cooperation of other agencies.
Q: What about the medias role in crime prevention and crime coverage?
A: There is a responsibility to the public to report the news and assist the public by conveying important information on behalf of the community such as crime prevention. Because there is a certain element within the community that likes to see their crimes reported, there should be some consideration on what is reported, however. To put it another way, the coverage or article should serve a constructive purpose.
Q: Are there any unsolved crimes you really want to see solved?
A: I would like to see our open murder cases solved, such as Danydia Thompsons murder from 1997, or Montreal Perkins murder from 1993. The public is encouraged to visit www.killeenpd.com to view our cold cases dating back to 1973.
Q: What is the status of the Patrol Individual Vehicle Assignment Program, in which officers take their cars home each day?
A: The IVAP continues to be a viable program welcomed by both citizens and officers alike. The program allows officers who live in the city to drive their marked police unit to and from work. This program allows for better police visibility in each officers respective neighborhood, and brings about better accountability and maintenance of vehicles and equipment, reduced wear and tear on vehicles, and lower cost per mile driven compared to fleet vehicles.
The program is being phased in over a five-year period to avoid a large capital outlay in any single year. The program should be fully implemented by 2010.
Q: What is the status of the proposed new police building and explain the process?
A: Keeping in mind each stage is quite involved, there are several stages to building a new police headquarters. The first stage is to get a needs assessment study completed to answer questions such as how large the facility should be for the future size of the department in a given year. The study can also include a site survey, which will tell us where it should be constructed. Additionally, the study could include a feasibility study to advise the department on such things as whether it should include a jail or answer other important questions. It is estimated that this phase will take about four to six months to complete.
The next stage of the project would be the design phase. This phase can take anywhere from 12-18 months to complete.
The final stage is the actual construction phase, which should take about 18-24 months to complete.
Each stage must be completed in the proper sequence and approved by city council before moving to the next.
Current plans are to bring before the City Council a recommendation to award a contract to the firm found to be most qualified and capable of performing the study.
Contact Jimmie Ferguson at email@example.com