KILLEEN, TX — A Killeen man is speaking out in support of the Killeen Police Department. Michael Fornino called on the Killeen City Council to offer more resources to the force.
“There are not enough police officers on patrol to meet with the current population and the crime rate,” said Fornino, who spoke to Central Texas News Now after addressing the council last week.
“While having a larger population than the surrounding areas seem to have, no definitely has, less cops on the roa, for patrol, crime deterrents, crime prevention, crime response, officers here are overworked, undermanned,” he continued.
Fornino says he sees an unfortunate trend. “There has been gunfire in my neighborhood to where I’ll get a response several hours - plural - after the fact, if at all to the call,” said Fornino.
Fornino was clear that he is a supporter of the Killeen Police Department, citing the diligent work by Police Chief Charles Kimble and the officers. He said that they simply need more resources.
“We’re all in agreement that public safety is an important issue, so that’s something that has always been in the forefront of me as mayor and the city council,” said Killeen Mayor Jose Segarra.
“The challenge isn’t supporting them or adding anything new, because things are already in place,” Segarra said. “Without us having to do anything in the budget, we can add 20 police officers right now,” he continued. "There are dozens of recruits coming through the police academy."
He says the focus needs to remain on the ever-changing job market.
“We have to make sure when our police come here to work that they’re not looking for a job elsewhere that pays better, so the council, the main thing that they can do, is offer good compensation plans to make sure that we are paying them at the level that’s competitive,” said Segarra.
Some feel that this needs to be a top priority. “It’s clearly a manning issue, and the citizens are seeing, we’re definitely feeling it,” said Fornino.
Central Texas News Now took a side-by-side look at some of the police budgets in Central Texas. Killeen budgets a projected $27.6 million in 2019. The budget increases to $33.8 million in 2020.
Waco has a projected budgeted for the 2019 fiscal year of more than $41 million.
College Station budgeted $24.2 million with a small increase proposed for 2020.