Kyle Police cite lack of staff issue in neighborhood complaints

Various issues ranging from fireworks to stop signs in one Kyle neighborhood led the Kyle Police Department (KPD) to hold a meeting to address public concerns.

The Kyle Public Works building played host to the meeting between residents from the Four Seasons Farm neighborhood and Kyle Police. 

Captain Pedro Hernandez and Lt. Andre Marmolejo headed up the impromptu meeting, with the idea coming from Kyle Police Chief Jeff Barnett. Only eight residents from the Four Seasons subdivision, however, were present

Hernandez said a Four Seasons resident emailed Barnett a list of concerns, one of which was about fireworks used on New Year’s Eve in the neighborhood.

Hernandez and Marmolejo cited a lack of manpower to be everywhere all at once on a busy holiday like New Year’s Eve.

“We had three fireworks calls that night and all three of them received good response times,” Hernandez said.

The second issue extended to residents failing to stop at stop signs throughout the neighborhood. Marmolejo said filing a complaint, whether online or over the phone, would help police with those issues.

Residents were also concerned about aggressive drivers, signage for directions not to park on both sides of the street and current gang activity in Kyle.

Marmolejo said KPD currently has 17 patrol officers with a full budget that could support 24 patrol officers.

Currently there are 7 spots open on the Kyle Police force.

During the meeting, Hernandez said calls coming from the Four Seasons neighborhood constituted “less than 1 percent” of emergency calls in the city. Hernandez said active communication between neighbors, along with regular calls to the police department, has led to the low call rate.

“From January 2016 to present, the Four Seasons neighborhood has had five houses broken into and nine cars broken into,” Hernandez said, “Which is really less than 1 percent of the total crime in the city.”

Residents present at the meeting spoke directly to each other at one point trying to ascertain whether or not there was an active neighborhood watch in the subdivision. 

Residents discovered there isn’t an official neighborhood watch, but instead a network of neighbors looking out for each other.

Some residents also wanted to know when a new police department building, which features an estimated $20 million price tag, would be in the works for the department. KPD is currently operating out of a building that was once a bank.

“The city has considered it, but right now there aren’t any funds for it,” Hernandez said.  “I have been a cop for 20 years in Kyle and I really want a new building.”

Hernandez and Marmolejo encouraged the use of social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, to communicate with neighbors. They also stressed the importance of getting neighbors phone numbers for more immediate contact.

“There are times when residents post concerns on these platforms then ask us (Kyle Police) why we didn’t address them and when we ask if they reported it to the KPD, they tell us they didn’t because they posted it to the social media platform,” Marmolejo said.

Residents present at the meeting were encouraged to use the website and call the non-emergency KPD number with any concerns they have, big or small.

“No matter how short staffed we are we find a way to get the job done,” Hernandez said, “We are here to serve the community.”

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