CENTRAL TEXAS — New statistics from the FBI have been published, detailing the number of violent crime reports among police departments across the country.
In Waco, Temple, and Killeen the numbers tell the same story: crime was on the rise in 2020.
The data reveals that most of the metropolitan police departments in Central Texas saw an increase in crime. Versus 2019, Waco's crime reports rose from 783 to 905. Temple rose from 221 to 297. Killeen nearly doubled their total, 583 to 1033. The police departments of Hewitt, Bellmead, and Belton also saw slight increases.
The Robinson Police Department was one of the few local agencies that reported fewer crimes in 2020.
"Our officers just being out in the community and knowing the community probably had something to do with it," said Robinson Chief of Police Rich Andreucci.
Andreucci acknowledges that luck may have also played a part in their department reporting less crime. He said over the last year, his officers haven't made any significant changes to the way they handle calls.
"People just have to be patient as all these cities try to kind of figure out what the best way to keep everybody safe is," said Andreucci.
The numbers are a good reminder that even if you don't feel threatened by your surroundings, it never hurts to take some extra precautions to keep yourself safe.
Linda Chambers, a Robinson resident, takes personal safety seriously.
"I just don't take chances. I try to park close to the store, and if not really close than underneath lights," said Chambers.
Chambers says she appreciates the efforts of local officers to fight crime, and believes that they may be under a heavy work load.
"Well I think they're overwhelmed, just like our health department is right now," said Chambers.
There is one key takeaway that the raw numbers don't reveal: not all types of violent crime have been rising equally. An increase in crime reports doesn't necessarily mean an increase in homicides and aggravated assaults. The Waco Police Department confirmed to me over the phone that vehicle theft has been the biggest offender recently. Andreucci noticed the same trend.
"Our burglaries of vehicles have been going through the roof lately. And most of that is almost always unlocked cars," said Andreucci.
With 2020 being in the midst of a pandemic, Andreucci says the isolation and stress caused by COVID may have played a role in the uptick in crime. Those same factors appear during the holiday season, which is a period known for violent crime spikes.
Looking at year-to-year crime numbers from the FBI, none of our local police departments appear to be undergoing a significant trend in one direction or another. The Robinson Police Department notes that crime can ebb and flow in a district every year, and a year with high crime reports could be followed by a quiet year.
If you want to do some investigating of your own, you can view the FBI statistics online by visiting their Crime Data Explorer. The numbers can be broken down into individual police departments.