A day after the death of Killeen police officer Robert Hornsby, local officials and residents gathered at Killeen Police Department headquarters Monday night for a community forum.
About 20 residents attended the 90-minute meeting, filling most chairs.
Police Chief Dennis Baldwin said the combination of an ongoing shooting investigation, Hornsby family developments, SWAT Officer Juan Obregon Jr.’s hospitalization and normal force operations prevented division and unit commanders from attending.
Baldwin solely addressed most residents’ concerns ranging from red light cameras to vacant buildings.
The event began on a somber note, as Killeen Mayor Dan Corbin expressed condolences to KPD on behalf of the City Council and Killeen residents.
“Our hearts and prayers are with you as a community, and if there’s anything we can do, we’re here to ... make it easier to bear,” Corbin said.
Corbin and Baldwin agreed that forums are important for direct communication between residents and police.
Baldwin touted the use of red light cameras at seven of the city’s busiest and most dangerous intersections, citing a reduction in crash numbers since the program started in 2008.
“If it was for a revenue-generating purpose, you would’ve seen ... the city say, ‘Hey, why don’t y’all expand this program?’” Baldwin said. “We have not seen a need for it.”
One resident questioned if the city could relocate the cameras after crash numbers dropped in targeted intersections.
It’s possible, Baldwin said. The decision rests with City Manager Glenn Morrision and the City Council, which selected the intersections.
South Killeen has developed, while vacant, dilapidated and broken buildings sit unaddressed in north Killeen, said a resident. Out-of-town drivers have pulled her over to ask how to get around town “because they’re scared.”
The city could raise more money to address concerns if it raised taxes, Corbin said. But most people think they pay enough.
“We’re dealing with scarce resources,” Corbin said. “The council has established as a priority ... dilapidated buildings, abandoned buildings, abandoned signage, (and) junk cars. Those are things that we’re looking at very closely. We’re doing that through updating ordinances ... and having more people out on the streets enforcing.”
The city has emphasized appearance since 2003, increasing its number of code enforcement officers from three to 11, Corbin said.