By BILL PETERSON
Editor at Large
KYLE – As anyone around Kyle can intuit, the raw number of crimes in the city has increased in the last couple years, just about in lockstep with the city’s population growth.
But motor vehicle accidents have emerged as an even greater drain on the Kyle Police Department (KPD) as the city’s population has increased by about 67 percent in the last two years while the KPD has remained static at 19 sworn officers.
The rate of motor vehicle accidents in Kyle more than doubled in 2007, from 134 in 2006 to 278 in 2007. KPD counted 200 motor vehicle accidents through July 2008 and estimates a total of 342 for the whole year, which would represent a 23.2 percent increase from 2007.
KPD has released crime figures for the last three-plus years as the city council has deliberated on expanding the budget to fund, among other items, an additional six sworn police personnel. The additional police would bring the Kyle force up to 30. The city already has budgeted five more officers for 2008, but delayed hiring them until KPD transitions to voter-approved civil service rules in October.
The KPD forecasts an increase in combined personal and property crimes in 2008 to 462, up 13.5 percent from a 2007 total of 403. Through July 2008, 270 such crimes were reported in the city.
The 403 crimes in 2007 represented a 20.04 percent rise from 338 in 2006, and the 2006 figure was up 24.7 percent from 271 crimes in 2005.
The largest increases are occurring in aggravated assaults, larcenies and vehicle burglaries.
KPD reported 14 aggravated assaults through July 2008 after 14 such crimes in all of 2007. KPD reported eight aggravated assaults in 2006. The police reported 166 larcenies in 2007 after 138 in 2005. Through July 2008, KPD reported 109 larcenies.
Vehicle burglaries were up to 131 in 2007 after 104 in 2006. Through July 2008, KPD reported 85 vehicle burglaries.
For crime reporting purposes, KPD gave the city’s population at 18,274 in 2006. The city passed a resolution declaring a population in excess of 25,000 in 2007 and now estimates put the city’s population at 30,000.
The proposed KPD budget would increase in Fiscal Year 2009 to $2.7 million, up from $2 million this year. It would increase the ratio of sworn personnel per 1,000 residents from 0.8 to 0.97 and increase the cost of police service per citizen from $66.47 to $86.87.
The city said Kyle’s staffing and costs for police still would be well below those figures for Central Texas cities of comparable size, which the city uses to determine where it stands in the marketplace. Those cities are Cedar Park, Georgetown, New Braunfels, Pflugerville, San Marcos, Schertz, Seguin and Universal City.
For 2006, the comparison cities averaged 1.55 sworn personnel per thousand residents, ranging from a high of 1.8 in Seguin and Pflugerville to a low of 1.15 in Cedar Park. The comparison cities spent an average of $149.10 per citizen for police protection in 2006, with a high of $201.81 in Pflugerville and a low of $104.02 in Cedar Park.
In 2006, San Marcos spent $123.52 per citizen on police protection, with an average of 1.66 sworn officers per 1,000 residents.