KILLEEN, TX — Following a record of 31 homicides in Killeen last year, many are fed up, now pushing for crime prevention.
“A lot of crime does go on there but what is the city putting back into those areas to prevent those crimes. To give to those youth, those teens to something other to do than crime,” said Change is Here Founder Patrick Arryn.
“A lot of times you aren’t doing nothing so what else is there to do but commit crime,” said Killeen Resident Garett Galloway.
The Killeen City Council unanimously approved the Committee for Crime Solutions this week. Councilman Ken Wilkerson said it’ll study crime data from a panel of social work and criminal justice faculty at Texas A&M University-Central Texas.
“Using the data that they can provide from their research and their best practices using their staff, I think we can come up with some great programs and just some direction as far as how to bring a crime rate down,” said Wilkerson.
Councilman Wilkerson said the study will include comprehensive research on HOW to decrease crime and find solutions to prevent it. It can even help prevent the younger generation from falling victim to crime.
“I see potential for programs, for parenting, for mentorship for decision-making and some alternatives also,” said Killeen Councilman Ken Wilkerson.
Some locals say incidents like the death of Patrick Warren and calls for police reform are causing a rift between law enforcement and the community.
“When people look at the police, they look at them as the enemy and it shouldn’t be that way,” said Arryn.
“We need the police and we need a better way for the police to interact with our community,” said Wilkerson.
The committee will include members of the public and local experts.
“If we have a crime rate that we’re not satisfied with we automatically say what are the police doing about it. What are we doing about it? That’s the question that we should be asking. Hopefully, this provides energy and we get momentum behind it so that it can be a community-driven thing,” said Wilkerson.
Wilkerson said things are still early, they’re hoping to select members and begin the research in the next couple of months. Staff with Texas A&M University-Central Texas says they gave her a few full-time professors to be on the committee.
Now that the committee has been approved by the city, the university is fully committed to using it in its research to help drop crime rates in the city.
Killeen police officials say we are seeing some changes to crime numbers in the city
Between January and April, there’s been a 24% decrease in crime compared to that timeframe last year, KPD officials have also seen a drop in violent crime.
Killeen City leaders are hoping to see others like Nolanville, Harker Heights another nearby city to be a part of the committee.
“We can become the strongest region in the state,” said Wilkerson. “If you’re talking about the strongest region in Texas, you’re talking about one of the strongest regions in the country. Hopefully, we can start working on that and you can bring communities together and get out there knowing that we’re all fighting for the same thing."
Wilkerson said that Harker Heights pulled out of the committee because they’re working on ways to prevent crimes themselves. He said they plan on still working with KISD, Fort Hood and others in Central Texas.