AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Amarillo Police released the following statement on the 2019 preliminary crime rate for Amarillo.
The 2019 preliminary crime rate for Amarillo based on the Uniform Crime Report Index Crimes is 44.5 offenses per 1000 residents. This is an 11% reduction compared to the final 2018 crime rate for Amarillo released by the FBI in September, which was 50 offenses per 1000 residents. The preliminary crime rate is based on an estimated population of 204,828 residents.
In 2018, there were 10,026 index crimes reported compared to 9,124 reported offenses in 2019, which is a 9% decrease. The index crimes reported to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the FBI by law enforcement agencies are Murder, Robbery, Aggravated Assault, Burglary, Auto Theft, Larceny, and Arson. The reported index offenses and the crime rate for 2019 are the lowest since at least 1999, which is the earliest year available for the DPS Crime in Texas Reports. The preliminary crime rate may differ slightly from the final crime rate which will be releas ed later in the year by the DPS and the FBI.
Although property crime has been decreasing in Amarillo for several years, that had not been the case for violent crime. In 2019 however, there was a 9.8 % decrease in the number of violent crimes reported compared to 2018. A major factor in the reduction in violent crime is related to the Police Department’s participation in the Project Safe Neighborhood (PSN) program. PSN is a partnership between the Police Department and the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas and other federal, state, and local law enforcement/probation agencies and two District Attorney’s Offices. The program focuses on reducing violent crime in areas identified as having the most violent offenses within the city. This is accomplished by filing federal charges on habitual violent offenders, in particular, those involved in gun-related violence, instead of prosecuting cases in state district courts.
In the designated PSN zone, reported violent offenses decreased by 16% in 2019 compared to 2018. PSN is a valuable tool in reducing violent crime because: (1) we place defendants in the Randall County Jail instead of the typically more crowded Potter County Jail, (2) defendants in the federal system can be denied bond if the prosecutor can show that they are habitual violent offender, (3) cases are adjudicated more quickly in the federal system than in state district courts, (4) defendants serve a greater portion of their sentence in federal prison system compared to state penitentiary system. In 2019, approximately 80 habitual violent defendants’ cases were file federally instead of in state district courts.
Other efforts initiated by the department in 2019 to reduce violent crime included participating in the Public Safety Partnership (PSP) program. PSP is a US Department Justice Program implemented to help cities reduce violent crime. The department applied for the program in April and was accepted in June, along with nine other cities. The PSP program provides selected agencies with specializes training, technical assistance, and grant funding opportunities to help reduce violent crime at no cost to the agencies. Agencies participate in the program for three years. Department personnel have already participated in valuable training provided through the PSP program, and two major assessments of the police department’s operations have been identified for 2020.
Also, in 2019 the department went online with the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) system. We used grant funds to purchase the hardware for the system. The department signed agreements with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), which is the proponent agency for NIBIN, to access the system’s database. NIBIN allows ballistics technicians to determine whether ballistic evidence found at a shooting incident scene is related to ballistic evidence at other shooting scenes. This system has provided key leads to detectives investigating shooting incidents. The PSN program, the PSP program, NIBIN and the department’s ongoing community policing efforts all have vital roles in helping to further reduce violent crime in Amarillo going forward.