AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — According to APD, over the years homicide numbers have increased nationally and locally. APD public information officer Cpl. Jeb Hilton said that in previous years Amarillo typically averages 15 to 16 homicides yearly.
In 2021 the number of cases increased to 24 and again to 27 cases in 2022. Only one case in 2022 which took place on May 15 of that year is currently still under investigation.
“It is scary when you see those numbers and you say hey, we averaged 15 or 16, which is a lot it seems like. Then you jump by 10 or 12 that next year, that’s a huge difference,” Hilton said. “That’s almost a hundred percent jump, so it is something that can scare people. What we’ve seen is that a lot of these are targeted things there not a whole lot of these that are random people being murdered.”
According to Hilton, when the community sees an increase in homicides many may believe that it is due to people who are involved in gangs committing random acts of crime, but locally that is not what APD is witnessing.
“A lot those come with a high-risk lifestyle. We are seeing people rather it’s gang involvement, or drug involvement, or you know involvement with weapons. We are seeing some of these. That is what majority of the shootings come from,” he said. “If you are not living that lifestyle most of the time you are not going to be at risk. I am not saying it’s not a possibility but when it comes to the homicides in Amarillo it’s what we tend to see when it comes to those.”
Hilton added that when the department looked at their information related to the homicide cases, with the increase in cases also came the increase of younger suspects.
“It’s not just something that you get older, and you know start going and getting in some crimes. We are seeing kids, juveniles, that are being involved in some of these things,” Hilton added. “We’ve tried and tried to change our tactics when it comes to reaching out to those. Our liaisons in the school, our neighborhood portal officers, our outreach.”
Hilton mentioned that although Amarillo is seeing an increase in homicides the department is hard at work to close each case.
“As far as our response to it, we’ve put more proactive officers out, we’re trying to work more with our federal agency partners, the FBI, the ATF, the DEA. A lot of these who are able to get us into different court situations,” he added. “So, if we have someone who is a repeat offender, instead of sending them to maybe a county jail, and with state charges, were able to put them on federal charges, which could keep them longer and maybe do some more things to help keep this violence from continuing to come back on our streets.”
Hilton wanted to remind the community that although the APD is working hard to make arrests for each case they cannot do it alone.
“It’s not going to be just us that solves us it’s going to be the community in general that comes together and says we’re not going to put up with this anymore. So, you know, we’ve got 350 officers that work here, and they go out and they do their job the best they can,” Hilton said. “But we have a city of 20,000 people and without that support without all those folks coming forward and saying, hey, we’re going to help you guys stop this. There’s only so much we can do as a police department. So, we’re going to do our part we would ask that everybody else does theirs and we all work together and make Amarillo a safe place to live.”