KILLEEN, Texas — The Killeen Police Department is looking for the next chief in line as Charles Kimble is retiring after a 31 year career in law enforcement.
He is set to retire Jan. 27, but before he closed his chapter in law enforcement, he sat down with 6 News to reflect on his career, the Killeen Police Department and his future.
Kimble began his job as the Killeen police chief on Sept. 1, 2017. He started his career in 1991 in his hometown -- Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 6 News asked him what made him decide to retire from law enforcement and he said he looked at his personal life and how it was mixing with his professional life and it was clashing. He said his mentors have taught him; when you know, you know.
"Things were kind of getting stressed, I wouldn't say stressed out, but it was clashing, on my personal life along with work and I didn't want to be ineffective here," Kimble explained. "I feel that in the last five years we really did some good work and I know that there's another chief out there that will continue on doing the work that we have been doing for the last five years here."
Kimble's tenure includes dropping the overall crime rate in the city, creating a new training division and adding two new K9 units to the patrol division.
As he steps away from the badge, the cameras and the office -- he reflected on his time in Killeen. Prior to coming to the Central Texas military town, he worked for a police department near Fort Bragg.
"Unfortunately, military towns, sometimes they get a bad rep. But you know, and even back there in North Carolina and here, both of these communities are just great communities," Kimble said. "They have a very all American type spirit with the with the active duty soldiers, and retirees, or their spouses. So it's great to be in that atmosphere of people who love their country, who serve who served, their countries."
The Wisconsin native found a home in Central Texas, surrounded by a community that he believes is better after his five years as chief.
"The hope is that next person that comes behind me keeps that up because you can't police in a closet anymore," Kimble explained. "You have to be out talking with people and you have to take it good and bad when it comes in. I think we have done that."
He had two main goals when he first started the job in 2017, leave it better and bring the crime numbers down.
"The number one thing that we're gonna focus on, everything that we do, every piece of paper that we work on, every project that we work on, and make sure that it's driving down the crime numbers," Kimble said in a 2017 interview with 6 News.
Based off data from the FBI, violent crime numbers significantly dropped when Kimble took office, but going into 2020 and more recently -- they're rising again.
Kimble cites the increase to the pandemic.
"We spent a lot of time and effort on keeping our officers safe, keeping the community safe and I think what happened was, we detach ourselves from the community because we had to stay six feet apart, we couldn't do community outreach events, we couldn't do those things that were bringing us together and I think when people started to come together, we saw crime skyrocket," Kimble said. "We saw not only in Killeen, we saw it across the country and this deal going on to this day. I think people got cabin fever and they just got back out, and so did the criminals and they took advantage of the population and crime went up a lot."
As he heads out the door at the end of January, Kimble believes he accomplished his goal with crimes.
"It's not about a numbers game, but did we affect crime -- I think we affected crime," he added. "I think we affected it in a way that we identified the players, we sent some some bad guys to prison, we made the community aware and we brought people together to talk about it."
He tells 6 News he sees a bright future for KPD, but also said policing models may need to change and also recruitment strategies, something he wished he would've put more focus on.
"I just think I probably, as the police chief, could have worked harder on that," Kimble said. "I may have paid too much attention to improving the relationship with the community, but not enough in the recruiting effort. Now, don't get me wrong. We doubled our recruiting personnel and we did some things. I just think I could have pushed that a little harder to make sure that we have the right people working for the department."
As for his future, Kimble's roots are now in Central Texas. He plans to try to help the law enforcement community -- just not in uniform.
"I still think I want to stay connected to our officers and and help them because I know how hard this is but as a full time police chief, those days are just about to come to an end."
He's mostly looking forward to stepping out of work mode and enjoying time with family.
"I feel comfortable here," Kimble said. We put down roots here, looking for my grandkids to grow here. I'm looking forward to going to football games now Friday night and you know, and not have keep my head on a swivel all the time. A great community and I look forward to the opportunities that await me and my family as we as we stay here in Central Texas."
Kimble told 6 News there may be a chance for him to help in the selection process of the next KPD chief, but that is still being worked out with the city manager.
You can watch the full interview Kimble did with 6 News in the link below. He talks about the root causes to violent crimes in Killeen, how the department is handling the mental health crisis and his thoughts on the marijuana ordinance issues in Killeen.