Killeen City Council to discuss jail closure

Posted at 7:14 PM, Jan 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-03 23:56:40-05

The City of Killeen will soon be one step closer to deciding whether or not the city jail will stay open this year.

The city council first proposed closing the jail in November 2016. Tonight, Interim Police Chief Margaret Young, presented the specifics for the plan. In it, she gave three options.

One keeps the jail open, a move that costs the city $1.3 million dollars annually.

But the other two have the jail closing. In one of those cases, Killeen Police Officers would take people they arrest directly to the Bell County Jail - a process she says could take up to an hour of patrol time. The second option has the city paying for a charter van or using a city van to transport arrestees to the Bell County Jail. Both plans have some initial start-up costs but would save hundreds of thousands of dollars over time. 

Killeen Police Association President Bobby Castillo took to Facebook to express early dissent but remained optimistic after the meeting. "The city's done well in trimming some of this unneeded fat to help our budget out, but at what point can you put a price tag on for the quality service for a community?" Castillo said. His worry is that in cutting costs there may be a cut to quality. "The issue at hand is how much does it effect the efficiency of how the department is run from all positions from patrol officer to detectives," he said.

 Interim Police Chief Margaret Young, did acknowledge that closing the jail would present a fine line to walk. 

"As a department head, I want to save money and balance the budget. Extremely important as an administrator of a police department, I want to look at the mission impact -- because my mission is crime," Young said. She maintains that no matter the choice, she is sure the quality of work from the men and women who serve on Killeen Police force would not be diminished. 

The city attributed much of their costs of running the city jail to excessive overtime and a high turnover rate. Castillo worries that by simply closing the jail it won't address the bigger issues. 

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