KILLEEN, Texas — A new report from Killeen Independent School District shows that crime is down compared to previous years and now district leaders are hoping to keep the trend that way.
The KISD School Board, along with other district leaders reviewed their annual Texas Academic Performance Report at Tuesday's meeting. The report had multiple sections including the crime report from the KISD police chief.
Part of the report from Chief Ralph Disher shows a major case comparison over the past six school years. It includes a list of crimes like assault, possession of drugs or weapons and theft.
Based on the report: the 2020-2021 school year was up in the drugs-alcohol-tobacco category, theft-burglary-robbery category and also the weapons category.
"A bit of a challenge I think for kids at the beginning of the school year because they hadn't been in school for 15, 18 months so we saw a little bit of at the beginning, a little bit of a peek, but it seems to they've gotten into a groove we've been able to work well with our kids," Disher said.
However, overall the district saw a 13.5 percent decrease in criminal, violent cases in the 2020-2021 school year.
Disher says it all has to do with the relationships created with students.
"Allows them to see our officers in a way that's different than just the policing and to build those relationships because then students are more willing to come forward," he said.
The digital era has made it increasingly harder to keep schools safe and to stay on top of activity Disher says. He cites TikTok challenges and social media contributing to criminal, violent cases, which he says has forced them shift gears.
"Staying focused and being aware of what's going on with our kids," Disher said, "Social media awareness is a big thing."
The KISD police department is also addressing the issue amongst themselves by adding more officers on campuses and wearing body cameras.
Chief Disher also told the school board at the meeting Tuesday that the department's K9 officer has helped track down drugs and weapons on campuses.
He also says the K9 is a big determent and district leaders discussed how it could be good to add more to the force.
"I think what we have to look at is not the determent of it but making our parents feel safe sending their kids to school," said KISD School Board President JoAnn Purser.
There was a common message amongst the KISD school board at the meeting when is came to discussing student and campus safety and that was KISD students deserve to be in the safest environment.
"Let's be as proactive as we can possibly be," said KISD School Board Secretary Brett Williams. "We have to do everything possible and I think we need to be as aggressive as we can be to let people know we will not tolerate being commonplace of having drugs on campus."
Chief Disher does also say it goes beyond what they can do as officers. It will also take students and parents to make adjustments to keep school safe.
The school board, along with Disher, also discussed switching to a different data and report system to be better connected with other Bell County law enforcement agencies.