A proactive citizenry – that’s what Buda and Kyle law enforcement officials cite as the top reason for both cities to fall within the top 55 safest cities in the state.
But the continued rise in property crimes, primarily car and home burglaries, leads authorities to urge more preventative measures from residents.
Buda was ranked as the 50th safest city in Texas, according to a report from the National Council for Home and Safety Security. The report utilized data from the 2016 FBI Uniform Crime Report, which collects crime statistics reported by cities across the state.
Rankings were based on the number of reported violent crimes, such as aggravated assault, murder and sexual assault, as well as property crimes, such as burglary and motor-vehicle theft per 1,000 people, according to a NCHSS press release.
Bo Kidd, Buda Police Chief, said a number of factors led to the ranking, which is “something to be proud of.”
Kidd cited the city’s active citizenry is one primary component, which extends to the number of neighborhood watch groups in the area.
“We are getting more neighborhoods and we are always trying to engage and organize neighborhood watch groups,” Kidd said. “That is an ongoing effort and we will try to build on those relationships.”
In Kyle, which ranked 54th on the list of safest cities, neighbors often “look out for one another,” said Jeff Barnett, Kyle Police Chief. Kyle homeowners associations (HOAs) discuss crimes in their neighborhood during regular meetings and with law enforcement.
Barnett said more Kyle residents are taking safety and security “very seriously,” which includes a rise in the installation of security systems and surveillance cameras, which can detect criminal activity.
“The citizens are supportive of law enforcement and they help us locate and arrest criminals,” Barnett said.
Additionally, Kyle Police are also trying to increase resident education to avoid becoming a victim of property crime, which has been prevalent in the city in recent years.
According to FBI statistics, more than 600 property crimes were reported in Kyle in 2016, along with 483 thefts and 54 stolen vehicles.
Barnett said Kyle Police officers are trained to conduct security surveys in homes and businesses, which residents often take advantage of. During the survey, officers look for ways to improve safety and security around the property.
While residents are generally safe, Barnett said one exception is the high volume of unlocked vehicles in neighborhoods. Barnett estimated 90 percent of car burglaries occur when a vehicle is unlocked.
“They are crimes of opportunity. We have videos provided by homeowners where it’s simply people walking in the street pulling door handles,” Barnett said. He added the department realizes there are occasions when a car is broken into.
Kidd said theft calls, especially in retail areas, has been an area of focus for his department in recent years.
As a result, the department has refocused its patrols during the daytime hours in the areas along the Interstate 35 corridor.
“You adapt resources to those areas where they are more frequent and that’s the reality,” Kidd said.
But growing cities also mean a growing strain on the departments themselves. Buda Police has 19 sworn officers on duty for its estimated 15,000-plus population.
Kyle has roughly 50 sworn officers on duty for a city approaching 40,000 people.
Kidd said Buda Police is conducting a staffing analysis for the potential of hiring more officers. The results of that survey is expected to be presented during the fiscal year 2018 budget cycle.
“The reality is we’re not going to prevent all crime and we’re not everywhere at all times. This is a fast growing city and we’re a small growing department,” Kidd said. “But I think we have a group of young men and women that are proactively looking for crime.”