KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) Violent crime in Killeen is a hot topic, and some residents say it’s a growing problem.
(Photo by Sam DeLeon/file)
Even Killeen police say the city’s violent crime rate is rising.
The 2015 statistics for the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting system, or UCR, showed Killeen among the top cities for violent crime with a population between 100,000 and 200,000.
The most recent year for which UCR statistics are available is 2015.
"The crime has gone up,” Killeen Police Chief Margaret Young said.
“It's a fact, I think we need to be honest and look at that, the violent crime has gone up, our auto-theft rate has sky-rocketed."
According to the UCR, Killeen had the highest number of reported rape cases within the population sample.
Killeen also had the second highest number of murder victims with 17.
Waco’s number was 22 that year, but nine of them were bikers killed in the shootout at Twin Peaks restaurant.
Killeen’s overall violent crime rate of 618 violent crimes per 100,000 residents fell below cities like Odessa, Beaumont and Amarillo.
Still, Chief Young said Killeen ranks high on the list when it comes to crime.
She said this trend will show again when the UCR for 2016 is released, and most likely for 2017 as well.
A growing population and Killeen’s close proximity to Fort Hood are a few reasons for the uptick in violent crime, Chief Young said.
"That brings a lot of transient population to Killeen, good, bad, or indifferent, it is what it is,” lifelong Killeen Resident Ramon Alvarez said.
“I think that a lot of the crime that we do see is attributable to that population that is kind of coming and going."
"It's like every day, somebody's getting robbed, or burglary happening in the neighborhoods, everybody getting the cameras on their homes, stuff like that that they weren't doing back in 2000, and 2001,” Killeen Resident Lakresha Jackson said.
Many residents said the crime rate isn’t any worse than other cities, but that the community needs to take responsibility for improving Killeen’s safety.
"It's always been here. Crime is everywhere. It doesn't matter if you live on the north side of Killeen, or if you live downtown Killeen, it's going to be here. What are you going to do about it to fix it?" Killeen resident Deandra Harris said.
Some residents also said a lack of affordable activities for kids also plays a factor in the crime rate.
"If Killeen had things that were more affordable for children to do, I think that that would kill a lot of the violence, especially at a younger age,” Killeen resident Arnesha Smalls said. “If you start them young, they'll grow up to do good things."
"I think things can change in Killeen if they learn how to invest in their own, invest in the strengths of their own with the youth,” IMPAC Outreach Youth Nonprofit Founder Rodney Duckett said.
Social media have also made constant information about crime more readily available, which may be feeding into Killeen’s stigma.
Despite the crime rate, residents still have positive things to say about the city.