By Hailey Persinger
Killeen Daily Herald
The suggested course of action for Killeen's downtown police presence sat well with all but one City Council member Tuesday.
Police Chief Dennis Baldwin presented two proposals for the use of the current police headquarters, a 27,000 square-foot facility much of the department will leave when it opens its new headquarters in southern Killeen next month.
According to the presentation, the option A would staff the building at Avenue C and Second Street with an officer to take reports, police K-9 operations, bike patrol and downtown walking detail operations.
Though execution of the plan would cost the city nothing, Baldwin said it would significantly reduce police services in northern Killeen.
Option B, which calls for a continuation of operations as a north precinct, would cost almost $268,400 from the general fund if approved.
The price is worth retaining a heavy presence in the most established part of the city, Baldwin said.
Three of four present council members - Mayor Pro Tem Scott Cosper, Juan Rivera and Ernest Wilkerson - agreed. But Councilman Larry Cole called the proposal and the price tag "overkill."
"It would cost us too much," he said. "I don't see any other reason to have more than a skeleton crew down there. It's money we're taking away from other things."
Option B allows the precinct to continue as a burglary unit, home base for K-9 operations, and downtown walking and community bike patrols. It also calls for a space to be filled by the Federal Bureau of Investigations, a move Baldwin said city and police officials have considered for some time.
The proposal would allow the precinct to remain a spot for evidence processing stations, drop-off and storage, provide detectives with interview rooms, report-writing stations and permanent file storage.
Instead of maintaining or adding to operations downtown, Cole said he'd rather see money spent on patrol cars or more officers because "police protection is not provided in a building."
Rivera, who during the meeting called himself "a freak about public safety," disagreed.
"If we do not take option B, we're going to have a situation on our hands. We'll be neglecting our citizens," he said. "The safety of our people is more important than any money we have in our budget … I'm not looking for a skeleton. I'm looking for manpower."
Council members will vote on the building's future on April 27.
Contact Hailey Persinger at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568. Follow her on Twitter at KDHcity.