WACO, Texas — Waco Police Department is speaking out this week as they see an increase in gun-related crimes and firearm discharges across the city.
Last year, two-thirds of the city's homicides involved a firearm. Police encountered 264 gun-related crimes and received 1,630 discharge of firearm calls.
"Our officers don't want to be working those calls, and our citizens don't want to hear that a child's lost their life because of a reckless discharge of a firearm," said assistant chief of police, Frank Gentsch on a Waco Police podcast this week.
The department is making an effort to reach out to community members to educate them about gun violence and gun safety. They urge people to keep their guns out of unsecured locations and to report any missing firearms.
"It might be stolen and you don't know it yet, please still report that to us," said public information officer Cierra Shipley. "Because if it is stolen, we've had some cases where we find a stolen firearm and we contact that owner, and the owner doesn't even realize. 'Oh it was stolen? That's where it went?'"
They also ask gun owners to be responsible, as even shooting a gun into the air can have serious consequences and be punishable by fines or jail time.
"Whether there is an intended target or not," Shipley said. "Even someone under the influence just shooting off their gun, that bullet can go anywhere."