On the whole, Killeen’s crime numbers for 2015 were good. But a closer look reveals some problem areas that call for more police attention and resources.
The Killeen Police Department’s 2015 Uniform Crime Report, released last week, shows an overall drop in violent and nonviolent crimes of 11.6 percent.
Burglaries fell from 1,334 to 1,038 since 2014 — a 22.7 percent drop, and robberies dropped from 196 to 148 — a decline of nearly 24.5 percent. Both numbers are gratifying.
But those decreases are offset by an alarming spike in murders — 17 in 2015 compared to 10 the previous year. That’s a 70 percent jump, and nearly triple the number recorded in 2013 — six.
Equally disturbing is the rise in the number of rapes reported, with 189 cases in 2015 compared to 114 in 2014. Not only is this an increase of more than 65 percent, but it represents an average of one rape incident about every two days during the calendar year — an appalling statistic.
The positives in the report are worth noting: Five of seven categories showed a decrease in reported cases, including a nearly 23 percent drop in the number of vehicle thefts, from 220 to 170.
Still, though the city saw an overall drop in its crime rate, a 14.2 percent decrease in nonviolent crime was offset by a 2.7 percent jump in violent crimes.
Police Chief Dennis Baldwin noted that most murders committed in 2015 were the result of domestic violence, with three multiple-fatality incidents reported.
Baldwin stressed that KPD wants to work with the community and media to elevate awareness of domestic violence and sexual assault — an initiative the Herald will actively support.
In addition, he urged the drafting of proposals for state lawmakers that would permit earlier intervention in domestic violence situations than the law allows.
Most importantly, Baldwin pointed to a $2.33 million community policing grant that will fund 12 officers dedicated solely to targeting violent crime associated with gun violence.
These are all positive steps that have the potential to reduce the crime rate further.
Ultimately, making public safety a top priority will require the efforts of the entire community. How well those efforts succeed will impact not only those who call Killeen home, but the city’s ability to attract new residents and businesses.
The future is at stake. It’s time to get involved.