Every year, the Department of Public Safety conducts a study on the crime statistics in 24 Texas cities. For the past four years, the study has continuously shown Lubbock to have a high crime rate. Five years ago, there was an incentive to change those numbers, and finally, the Lubbock community is making progress.
"Now, I have to get baking powder and salt," said Wheelock-Monterey Neighborhood President Eleanor Kreneck. She is baking a batch of cookies for her neighbors because they are coming over to her house for a meeting to discuss how to fight crime in their neighborhood. Eleanor says that she has seen an increase in crime over the past five years. "Of course it concerns me, and that's why we've been talking to the police and neighbors. We're going to try and institute a neighborhood crime watch," said Kreneck.
Eleanor is not the only one wanting to bring the crime rate down. Lubbock city and county police are working toward the same goal as a unit. "Like I said, Lubbock enforcement and the community needs to be working hand in hand," said Lubbock Police Chief Claude Jones.
Whatever is being done, it must be working, because crime is down in the Lubbock area for the first time in four years. According to the DPS union crime report, Lubbock had 14,063 crimes reported last year. Lubbock's crime rate is down 3%. On a scale of #1 (Carrollton) and #24 (Dallas), one being the safest city, Lubbock ranks #11 on the scale. In 2000, Lubbock was ranked #19.
City and county law agencies says crime is down because prosecutors are giving stiffer penalties to repeat offenders. DPS Major Lamar Beckworth says an upgraded communication tool between the city and county has helped as well. Police Chief Claude Jones says that he has a plan to get the crime rate even lower -- put even more patrol units in neighborhoods.
Having bed space is a result of reducing crime. County Sheriff David Gutierrez says he is pleased with the numbers. But in order for the county to do their part to keep the crime rate low, the overcrowding jail issue needs to be resolved. "Having bed space is a result of reducing crime," said Gutierrez.
While law agencies work together, Eleanor hopes neighborhoods will join in the effort to make Lubbock one of the safest cities in Texas.