The U.S. Department of Justice is conducting local interviews, as it looks for ways to better address crime in Killeen, KPD confirmed Thursday. The DOJ's involvement began after KPD sought help dealing with its crime problem back in December.
“Bringing in experts from outside our organization will provide a fresh perspective and new ideas for combating crime in Killeen,” Police Chief Chuck Kimble said at the time.
The DOJ's Office of Justice Programs Diagnostic Center will analyze data and interview key stakeholders in Killeen to determine the most pressing issues facing the city. Those interviews are taking place this week and include representatives from the city, community groups, Fort Hood, law enforcement, schools, and law enforcement.
Federal personnel will be going through years of criminal records in Killeen to help the police department understand who their typical offenders are, who the victims are, and where and when crimes are most commonly committed. Personnel will even look into the zip codes where people committing crimes commonly live.
"We really want to look at the root causes of crime, to do that we really have to dig deep into the data," Chief Kimble previously told Channel 6 News Reporter Andrew Moore. "This data is going to be very specific, very offender oriented. It's going to be predictive policing."
At the simplest level, the data analytics are going to help the police department find out when and where its needs to focus its patrols. The DOJ has already downloaded data from KPD's record management system and some Bell County call data. The more complicated part of the job will be to address the cause of Killeen's crime. Residents have often complained about poor response times, a lack of programs or direction for youth, and gang activity. Now, the DOJ data analysis will provide some proof of exactly where police and city resources need to be focused.
Kimble also said the partnership will be the start of a long-term project for the city. He hopes to have a report from the Programs Diagnostic Center in hand in the next six months but there is no official timeline. Kimble said the Killeen Police Department was only the second department in Texas to work with the DOJ program.
Generally speaking, the Justice Programs Diagnostic Center works to address persistent public safety issues by bridging the gap between data and policy. One of its main goals is to make sure local resources are used wisely and that federal help is leveraged as needed. Its services come at no financial cost to the city.