Killeen: City council looking to protect local businesses

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KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) While crime in downtown Killeen is nothing new, neither are plans to revitalize the area while curbing the violence.

Project Safe Neighborhoods has been around since the early 1990s, dedicating officers to work overtime to patrol more dangerous areas of the city. (Photo by Alex Gibbs)

Project Safe Neighborhoods has been around since the early 1990s, dedicating officers to work overtime to patrol more dangerous areas of the city.

Next week the Killeen City Council could accept a federal grant for $165,000 to help fund the effort.

While local restaurant owner Josie McKinney says she feels safe, she believes that more law enforcement in the downtown area would make her more comfortable.

“I feel good about down here, but when I see a patrol car come by when it’s dark, it certainly makes me feel safer,” she said.

Killeen police Chief Charles Kimble says that dedicating officers to the downtown area could quickly address criminal activity and help build strong relationships with local residents and businesses.

“Anytime that we can use federal dollars that you, the citizens have paid for, we can bring those back,” he said.

“It’s a little bit of relief from the local budget and it also helps us target violent offenders.”

With the loss of both downtown grocery stores including an H-E-B at 809 North Gray St. that just recently closed its doors, there are concerns that the vacant buildings could be a magnet for criminals.

It’s a concern Councilwoman Shirley Fleming says she shares.

“There’s a lot of non-safety items and things going on here and we do need to have more police officers present,” she said.

“Right now, nothing is concrete. Nothing’s definite, but things are being worked on,” she said.