Killeen: Jump in federal convictions will help decrease crime, chief says

Killeen Police Chief Charles Kimble. (Photo by Chelsea Edwards)

KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) October marks a year into the relaunch of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a nationwide effort to reduce violent crime.

In the past few years, city officials in Killeen and more recently Temple, have come under scrutiny because of increases in crime.

However, the U.S. Department of Justice is saying that with its help, the cities are now making progress.

Federal authorities have been working with local agencies to get violent criminals off the street.

In the past year, more than 80 convicted felons have been slapped with federal firearms and drug charges in the Temple and Killeen areas.

That is a 319 per cent increase in federal charges.

Killeen Police Chief Charles Kimble believes an increase in convictions, and not just arrests, will help decrease crime in Central Texas' largest city.

"We think word got out to people in Killeen that we're going to look at all avenues for prosecution- state and or federal,” says Kimble.

“In the federal criminal justice system, it's time for time. If you are sentenced to 7 years, you're going to do 7 years. If you're sentenced to 25 years, you're going to do 25 years, and there's an enhancement with firearms."

Federal authorities are using the program to target gang violence in Texas which they believe will lead to the reduction of illegal gun possession and use.

Officials are also working to help keep previous offenders from returning to a life of crime through release programs, but the chief says his department isn't stopping there.

It’s also using its partnership with the Department of Justice to prevent future crimes from happening.

"What we had traditionally [was] police officers in our command staff getting together, and we were looking at data, but we hired a crime analyst which has been huge for us. She's actually been helping us predict where crime is going to happen based on some historical trends and things like that," Kimble said.

The chief says the department is also looking at improving current methods of cracking down on crime.

That includes the PSN program’s suggestion of including more technology in those efforts.

Killeen police have signed up to participate in the Neighbors app, a service provided by Ring, the video doorbell system.

The app allows users to share crime videos and receive safety alerts directly from the KPD.

“We are committed to keeping our community safe- things like our neighborhood watch, a successful National Night Out, the Citizens Police Academy- anything we can do to add eyes to the streets,” says the chief.