By Jade Ortego
Killeen Daily Herald
Statistics released by the FBI this week reveal that Killeen's ranking for violent crime among cities with more than 100,000 people rose from 11 to eight in 2009, compared with the previous year.
A comparison of the raw numbers of reported incidents shows a decrease in Killeen in murder, robbery and aggravated assault from 2008 to 2009. The incidents of rape increased from 66 to 69. Reported incidents of burglary, larceny and vehicle theft all increased as well.
Killeen police Chief Dennis Baldwin said it's more important to see how a city compares to itself in recent years than how it compares to other cities.
"Some cities' demographics are different. ... You can't really compare cities to cities; that's not really apples to apples," Baldwin said.
According to www.census.gov, the average age in Killeen is 26.7, making it the youngest of the Texas cities with more than 100,000 in population. Baldwin attributes the larceny-theft-type crimes to population growth and the relative youth of the community.
This week, the Killeen Police Department reported the first quarter of 2010 showed a 37.97 percent increase in burglaries from the first quarter of 2009.
Incidents of larceny and vehicle theft increased 23.98 percent and 27.22 percent respectively from 2008 to 2009.
Killeen's forcible rape ranking went from eight to four last year, but without much of a change in the number of incidences, Baldwin said. KPD has been working with Fort Hood officials to combat the problem, as well as informing patrons of the many clubs and bars in the area to be aware of the risks.
"We're doing things to educate patrons to stay mindful of their surroundings, be in groups. … It's an education issue," Baldwin said.
Assault rank stands
Killeen's rate of aggravated assault, a number influenced by the rate of family violence, stayed the same in 2009: seventh in the state. The incident number decreased from 594 to 498.
The local unemployment rate is 7.3 percent. Un- and underemployment are stressors that affect family violence nationally, Baldwin said. More specific to Killeen, the tension of the war effort can contribute.
"When people depart (are deployed), spouses have to assume different roles. Upon return, they have to reverse roles and that's where we see a little bit of strife coming from, one parent having to do two jobs," Baldwin said. "And when that parent is gone, sometimes kids aren't getting enough attention at home and they look for it elsewhere, and that's where we see some of that delinquency."
The estimated population of Killeen is 120,670, a four percent jump from the previous year. Service calls, which include traffic violations and noise complaints as well as emergency calls, increased 13.7 percent last quarter from the first quarter of 2009.
Service calls can increase because of population increases and also because of more police on the streets. More officers mean more eyes to stop crimes, note suspicious behavior and give citations, Killeen police intelligence manager Scott Dickson said.
Despite increases in officers in recent years, the police department has 21 unfunded positions.
"We only have 'X' amount of resources, personnel, equipment, and we have to look at the reality of the crime picture," Baldwin said. "Not only do we have to meet crime head-on, but address quality of life issues. It's a balancing act that never ends."
Herald reporter Victor O'Brien contributed to this article.
Contact Jade Ortego at email@example.com or (254) 501-7553. Follow her on Twitter at KDHcourts.
First quarter Killeen crime
Category 2010 2009
Murder 2 0
Rape 20 14
Robbery 64 27
Agg. Assault 140 119
Burglary 436 316
Larceny 732 774
Vehicle Theft 48 43
Source: Killeen Police Department
Killeen crime numbers
Category 2009 2008
Murder 5 10
Rape 69 66
Robbery 179 216
Agg. Assault 497 593
Burglary 1,735 1,711
Larceny 3,566 2,877
Vehicle Theft 212 169
Killeen's 2009 ranking*
Violent Crime 8
Agg. Assault 7
Property Crime 18
Vehicle Theft 26
*Among cities with populations greater than 100,000.
Source: FBIs Preliminary
Uniform Crime Report