Hank Murphy

Although the city of Terrell has swelled in population by an estimated 14 percent over the past 10 years, the crime rate here – for both property and violent offenses – has fallen significantly.

In fiscal 2010, the number of violent crimes stood at 161 in Terrell. The tally for fiscal 2019 was 65, according to statistics kept by the Terrell Police Department. The average decline since 2007 stands at 49 percent.

Like nearly 18,000 other law enforcement agencies across the nation, the Terrell Police Department classifies major crimes consistent with the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program administered by the FBI. Under UCR classification, murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault constitute violent crimes. 

Terrell’s rate of property crimes, which include burglary, theft, and automobile theft, also declined dramatically over 10 years. In fiscal 2010, total property crimes stood at 977. That number dropped to 620 for fiscal 2019.  The average decline since 2007 stands at nearly 33 percent. Overall crime in Terrell  is down 43 percent.

“We’ve made a significant impact on crime numbers over the years,” said Terrell Police Chief Police Chief Ken McKeown. “We’ve had an impact and I think our strategy has been to be really proactive – zero tolerance. We look at our crime numbers; we look at trends. We do crime analyses, giving us an idea of what’s spiking and where.”

Terrell police also work hand-in-hand with partnering agencies, such as the Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office and the nearby Forney Police Department, according to McKeown.

“Because we all have the same criminals. What’s going on there, they (criminals) are probably doing it here.”

A main factor in tamping down crime is the work of the city’s patrolmen, the chief noted.

“The biggest key to our crime fighting is our patrol guys. They out there who do what they’re supposed to do every day,” McKeown said.

Terrell police over the years also have developed good contacts in the community, the chief said. Police have built relationships with people “who know what’s going on and aren’t afraid to talk to us and tell us. So that’s been real helpful to us in solving crimes.”

Police also have made good use of the Crime Stoppers program as well as social media like Facebook, which has been helpful in developing leads.

McKeown, who has been Terrell police chief for about three years and is a 27-year veteran of law enforcement, noted that aggressive prosecution of repeat offenders by the Criminal District Attorney’s Office also has contributed to the lower crime rate.

Today’s Terrell police force has 42 sworn peace officers, up by about 10 over the past decade. It also has occupied a modern new facility on N. State Hwy. 34 since February 2016. That building, too, has improved the department’s crime-fighting capabilities, according to McKeown.

In the department’s old quarters, criminal investigations and patrol were separated, which hindered collaboration between detectives and patrolman, McKeown explained. The new complex has consolidated the efforts of investigators and officers patrolling the streets, improving collaboration between the divisions.

“Efficiency went up. It helped solve cases when everybody’s talking,” he said.

Lastly, McKeown noted that the Terrell Police Department places an emphasis on training for patrol officers as well as detectives.

“We have a real well-trained detective squad. That helps.”

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