As Kyle’s population continues to rapidly increase, the city’s police department is trying to keep pace.
This year, Kyle Police officials want to hire five sworn officers and fill several vacant staff positions.
Despite the likelihood that these jobs will be filled, the department would still be considered slightly understaffed in comparison to their caseload and daily dispatch calls, according to a study commissioned by the city.
Kyle’s population, which is more than 44,000 according to current U.S. Census Bureau estimates, is expected to increase to 50,000 within the next few years. However, according to FBI standards, the number of officers to residents is typically 2.4 sworn officers and 3.4 total employees per 1,000 people. Kyle Police has 52 sworn officer positions.
But City Manager Scott Sellers said a 2017 study conducted by Matrix determined Kyle Police is only understaffed by a handful of officers. If the empty positions are filled and city council allots more in coming years, Sellers said the department would be fully staffed and prepared.
“We’ve been much more proactive than we’ve ever been – with Matrix we’re studying the impacts of growth and the changing nature of crimes in Kyle, and the addition of drugs in and around our community,” Sellers said. “Our primary need is in detectives and investigators. It is our hope to add more in 2019.”
To help, Kyle City Council members prioritized the department’s technology needs when finalizing the city’s $84.9 million budget. City leaders allocated $6.8 million to Kyle Police for annual funding needs and expansion initiatives. In recent years, the department invested in new vehicles and guns.
However, funding has not been allocated for hiring more officers since 2015, due to several vacant positions that have not been filled.
The department will now be using funds to expand the records department and update its evidence locker.
City Council member Shane Arabie proposed plans for the department’s updates this year.
“There’s a tremendous list of things to do for the department,” Arabie said. “We prioritize the most immediate each year.”
With all the incoming calls, the department is also low on dispatchers and is seeking to fill vacant spots. According to Kyle Police Chief Jeff Barnett, the department is looking to fill spots in its records division and plans to hire more dispatchers and officers.