Monday, November 30, 2009

A Piece Of Work Maybe, But Artist?

The Killeen Daily Herald featured a good story about Killeen Police Officer Jeff Mullenax's passion for martial arts.
Some police officers lift weights to overpower suspects. Some run several miles every day to chase suspects.

Killeen police Officer Jeff Mullenax "paints." Mullenax's medium is Brazilian jiu-jitsu, a martial art based around grappling techniques.

A wrestling mat is his canvas. His passion is his inspiration, and his body is his paintbrush.

John Moore, Mullenax's trainer and the owner of Grappler's Lair, describes Mullenax as an artist.

Some grapplers just copy moves, but Mullenax challenges his mind to create new approaches, Moore said.

Mullenax, 37, is fast becoming a force on the world stage. He won the world heavyweight championship for blue belts in his age group Nov. 8 at the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation World No Gi Championship in Long Beach, Calif. Source: Killeen Daily Herald
Hit the link to read the whole story. Good work "Hurtn Machine".

Friday, November 27, 2009

Step 20 - Formulate Hypothesis

We're up to Step 20 - Formulate Hypothesis in Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers. Imagine that your Chief comes to your office. He tells you that City Hall is getting complaints about a particular crime problem and tasks you with coming up with a solution. What do you think his reaction would be if you tell him that you will take a guess at a solution? I imagine he'll say something like "You're an analyst. I don't pay you to guess. I want a solution." In actuality, they do pay you to guess, it's just dressed up and respectable when we call it a "hypothesis". Much of what we do in law enforcement is guess work. We base our guesses or hypotheses our training and experience but in the end it is still a guess.

The authors have some guidelines about this guess work:
  1. clearly state your hypotheses
  2. not be wedded to them
  3. use data to objectively test them (Source: Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers )
These guidelines are what differentiates a guess from a hypothesis. As we analyze our crime problems using the strategies outlined in the previous 19 steps we've covered in Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers we should be working towards a hypothesis. This hypothesis is our attempt at understanding the dynamics of the problem so we can then develop a possible solution. The analysis should always move us in the direction of a solution. It should not, as the authors caution lead to "Paralysis by Analysis".
The lack of explicit hypotheses can lead to "paralysis by analysis," collecting too much data, conducting too much analysis, and not coming to any useful conclusion. Source: Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers
It is important to realize that we will never have all the information we need to be absolutely certain our hypothesis is correct. There comes a time to be decisive and put our hypothesis out there. We don't want our crime analysis units to be thought of as a "black hole" where data comes in but information never escapes.

Next time, we'll cover Step 21 - Collect Your Own Data.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Killeen Murderer Sentenced

A Killeen man was sentenced to prison after he plead guilty to a Killeen murder.
A 27-year-old Killeen man was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison for the murder of Anthony Hemingway with a handgun in Hemingway's Killeen apartment in August 2007.

Though his trial was scheduled for Monday in Martha Trudo's 264th Judicial District Court, Christopher Ray Smith pleaded guilty in her court Tuesday to first-degree murder and burglary with intent to commit assault. Trudo also sentenced Smith to 30 years for the burglary charge, to run concurrently. Source: Killeen Daily Herald
With this part of their ordeal over, the victim's family can try to move on. Let's hope they find something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thin Blue Line on Black Friday

Local police are gearing up for Black Friday too.
The Killeen police started "Safe Christmas" patrols at Killeen Mall Friday. The Harker Heights police will run similar patrols at Market Heights throughout the holidays.

Both departments will be active on Black Friday as shoppers rush stores for holiday bargains.

Both departments are placing their mobile command centers and officers on bicycles and in cruisers around their hot spots. The hot spots in Harker Heights will be Market Heights, Walmart and H-E-B. Killeen police will focus on the Killeen Mall and local shopping centers. Source: Killeen Daily Herald
The holiday season is a very busy season for police.

Killeen Shooting A Murder

The Killeen Daily Herald is reporting that a shooting I posted about yesterday is another murder.
Joshua M. Wyatt, 22, of Fort Hood, was shot at his residence in the 3400 block of Victoria Circle around 11:19 p.m. Monday, according to a Killeen police news release.

Wyatt's death marked the second soldier killed in two days in Killeen. Spc. David L. Middlebrooks, 20, was stabbed to death around 5 a.m. Sunday, according to Killeen police. Another soldier is being held in connection with that slaying.

When Killeen paramedics arrived Monday, Wyatt was on the floor of his apartment suffering from a gunshot wound to the chest. Wyatt died on the way to Skylark Airfield, where he was to be flown by helicopter to Scott & White Hospital in Temple.
...
Killeen police have reported three homicides this month, after reporting only two in the first 10 months of the year.

Despite the three recent homicides, Killeen remains on pace to tie its lowest homicide total since 2004, when the city reported five, according to the FBIs Uniform Crime Report. Source: Killeen Daily Herald
Three murders in one month along with everything else I likely keeping KPD very, very busy.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy

Killeen Police have been very busy of late. Now comes this story on KPD investigating a late night shooting incident that left a Fort Hood soldier dead.
The victim was identified as Joshua M. Wyatt, 22.

Officers responding to a report of a shooting at about 11:20 p.m. Tuesday found Wyatt inside the apartment with a gunshot wound to the chest, police said.

He died as paramedics transported him to Skylark Airfield to meet a medical helicopter, which was to have flown him to the hospital. Source: KWTX.com
Killeen Police ask anyone with information about this incident to contact them.

Killeen CrimeStoppers pays cash for clues about area crimes. You can report anonymously via the Killeen CrimeStopper's website.

Recent Court Actions

A Killeen church secretary plead guilty to embezzling $90,000 from a Killeen church.
During her employmemt as church secretary, Paula Marie Cecil wrote 95 fraudulent checks from the Killeen church to herself, up to $1,500 each, from April 16, 2007, to Jan. 7, 2008. Most were between $500 and $900, and they were signed with the stamped signature of the church's rector, the Rev. Paul Moore.

Cecil cashed the checks at various locations throughout the county.

Officials in the church were notified of Cecil's actions through an Extraco Bank employee who noticed suspicious behavior.

Cecil had worked for the church for 18 months before being fired in January 2008. Source: Killeen Daily Herald
In other actions, a judge handed down a whopping 10 years of probation to a 33 year old man for sexually assaulting a 14 year old girl in front of her younger brother.
In other court action, Judge Martha Trudo of the 264th District Court sentenced Harold Zebulen Meeks, 33, of Fort Hood, to 10 years of probation for sexual assault.

Meeks was found guilty of assaulting a 14-year-old girl in front of her younger brother in a motel in Killeen on Sept. 13, 2006.

The victim and her brother gave statements to the Child Advocacy Center. The brother testified to witnessing Meeks assault his sister while she repeatedly said, "No" and "Stop." Killeen Daily Herald
At least no one can say that Bell County is tough on child rapists.

Killeen Murder

Killeen Police are investigating a murder. It is alleged that one Fort Hood solider stabbed another to death after an altercation at a party.
Fort Hood military police turned over Donnie Kenneth Stevens Jr., a 1st Cavalry Division soldier, to Killeen police Monday.

Stevens ran at and stabbed David Lester Middlebrooks, also a 1st Cavalry Division soldier, at a party around 5 a.m. Sunday, according to an arrest affidavit. The stabbing happened at a home at 111 Prather Drive, near Trimmier Road and Jasper Drive. Source: Killeen Daily Herald
The endless march of mindless violence continues.

Earlier in the year, Killeen Police had reported unusually low UCR Murder numbers. Even with this one and the murder of a Killeen teen last week, they are still below last years stats. Hopefully, they will finish the year out with no more murders. We can only hope.

Who Coined The Term "Person of Interest" Anyway?

Killeen Police have been busy the past few days. For one, their City Hall got burgled.
The burglary happened during daylight Sunday at the building located at 101 N. College St., according to a Killeen police news release.

Sunday's break-in is the second burglary in two weeks at a local government building. The burglary at City Hall is not believed to be connected with a Nov. 9 burglary at the Bell County Court Annex, said Carroll Smith, Killeen police spokeswoman.

A city custodian reported the burglary Monday around 4:15 a.m. The custodian arrived to work and found the front door to City Hall was broken into and items were missing. Killeen police did not release what items were taken.

The burglar, who was captured in surveillance footage, is described as a black male approximately 6 feet to 6 feet 2 inches tall, weighing between 160 and 180 pounds. He wore a blue plaid shirt-like jacket, a white T-shirt, blue jeans and white tennis shoes with dark laces. He wore a black beanie cap and is also believed to be partially bald. Source: Killeen Daily Herald
Killeen Police also released photos of a "person of interest" in relation to several other burglaries and a debit card abuse.
The photo shows a man looking into a security camera and walking near a downtown business that was burglarized.

Killeen police spokeswoman Carroll Smith did not know which business, when or what was taken in the burglary shown in the photos.

The man in the camera is not wanted as a suspect at this time, Smith said.

The person is described as a black man standing between 5 feet 10 inches and 6 feet 1 inch tall with a thin build. He appears to have a thin mustache, a goatee, a close-cut hairstyle and a receding hairline. Source: Killeen Daily Herald
You can view the photos associated with these two incidents at the Killeen Police Department website. If you have information about either of these, or any other area crime, Killeen CrimeStoppers pays cold hard cash for info. You can give this information anonymously at the Killeen CrimeStoppers website.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Step 19 - Research Your Problem

We're up to Step 19 in our walk through Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers and we're going to cover Step 19 - Research Your Problem in this post.

When I first started in law enforcement 19 years ago, researching was a lot more time consuming. Back then, the Internet was in it's infancy and was mainly confined to academics. If you wanted to read about new policing approaches, you subscribed to magazines, read the few police science textbooks out there or went to a conference. Now with the proliferation of the Internet, you can do meaningful research in your patrol car on an iPhone.

That being said, the Internet is a big place and much of the information out there should be looked at with a highly critical eye. A couple of really good places to start are with a couple of websites from the US Department of Justice. The COPS Program website and the Center For Problem Oriented Policing have a wealth of information there or linked from there.

Step 19 - Research Your Problem also lists a few other places you can find information to help you with researching your problem. I'm not going to list them all here but I encourage you to read the whole article at the link.

I do want to point out Limitations of the Information from the article. In it the authors offer two caveats:

  • "Most criminologists are more interested in crime and delinquency in general than in specific forms of crime. They are also more interested in distant causes of crime, such as social disadvantage and dysfunctional families, than the near causes of a problem, such as poor security or lack of surveillance. So even when you find academic articles dealing with your problem, you might find the causes they identify help little in developing an effective response."
  • "Unless your problem is very common, do not expect to find many relevant police projects. Be skeptical about claims of success unless supported by evaluative data. Even projects that have received Goldstein or Tilley awards may not have been well evaluated. Be warned also that a response that worked in a particular town or neighborhood might not work in yours because of specific circumstances that make your situation different. However, past police experience of dealing with the problem is always an important source of ideas about what might be helpful in your situation." Source: Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers 

The reason I point these out is that there is quite a gulf that exists between those criminologists that live in academia and cops and crime analysts that work in the real world. Don't be discouraged if you find that the only solution offered to your particular problem is some lofty sounding platitude such as "improve the social cohesion of the family unit". I don't know about you, but I can't affect the social cohesion of the officers I work with much less the socially deviant criminals that we encounter.

That being said, it is important to examine all aspects of your problem thoroughly before trying to develop a solution. I know that when your Chief is getting heat from City Hall he or she is likely to want a suggested solution "yesterday", but if you rush this you are liable to end up with a solution that is ineffective and wastes your limited resources.

Next time: Step 20 - Formulate Hypothesis.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Police Organization Gives Back

A police organization made up of Killeen Cops gave Thanksgiving meals to some less fortunate members of the community.
The West Bell County Fraternal Order of Police handed out approximately 35 meals from behind the Killeen police station Friday. Officers delivered about a dozen more to home-bound residents.

The meals included turkey, and several vegetables such as corn, green beans, stuffing and yams, funded by donations from local businesses and residents.

The meal will help Nikki Williams, a single mother of a 13-year-old daughter, provide a meal for her family including her sister, who is also a single mother.

Each holiday Williams' family and friends debate on who will cook the meal. Williams will make Thanksgiving dinner for her family and friends for the first time because of the gift, Williams said.

Carolyn Christopher said the meal will help her deliver Thanksgiving dinner to her two adult children.

When officers patrol their beats, they run into families that could benefit from holiday cheer, said Frank Plowick, a Killeen officer and former president of the WBCFOP. The families were nominated by officers and local churches.

"We're helping families that can use an extra helping hand," Plowick said.

Families arrived early Friday night, forming a line in the parking lot. Officers from Killeen and Fort Hood handed out more than 35 turkeys in 30 minutes.

Friday's giving was the first of its kind for the WBCFOP. The success of the program has the group planning for a similar giving at Christmas, said Chris Ferman, organization president and Killeen officer. Source: Killeen Daily Herald
Good job guys! Way to give back to the community.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Missing Teen Found Murdered

A missing persons case has turned into a homicide investigation for Killeen Police. I previously posted about him here.


Killeen police recovered the body of James Leroy Johnson III, 16, Thursday off Farm-to-Market 1237, north of Temple, according to a department news release.

One of the murder suspects, Paul Andrew Cantu, 18, of Waco, guided police to the body around 2 a.m., according to an arrest affidavit.

Cantu confessed that he, Victor Villarreal Jr., 17, of Fort Hood, and a 16-year-old juvenile beat and strangled Johnson to death in Killeen on Nov. 11. Source: Killeen Daily Herald
There's a lot more in the article at the Herald. Hit the link to read more.

I Think They Deserve An F

Four Killeen teens were under arrest for burglarizing two Killeen schools.
Burglars broke into the high school on July 10 and July 17 and stole 60 laptop computers and damaged the building, according to the arrest affidavit.

Justice of the Peace Garland Potvin arraigned Joshua Edwin Gibson and Adrian Juergen Summers Wednesday on a charge of burglary of a building, and set their bonds at $75,000 each.

Two other suspects, James Matthew Gibson and Zachary Tye Schneider, were incarcerated for allegedly breaking into Shoemaker High School in October and causing hundreds of dollars worth of damage, KISD spokeswoman Leslie Gilmore said. Source: Killeen Daily Herald
Schools are frequent targets for teen burglars. Given the prevalence of laptop computers in today's schools it would probably been a good investment for schools to find an effective way to secure them after hours.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Crime Map Blog

I've been fortunate to be given the opportunity to become a regular contributor to The Crime Map blog. James Gunter and crew describe the blog this way:
The Crime Map is dedicated to issues in crime mapping, law enforcement news, and community and pro-active policing, as well as crime analysis and intelligence-led policing. Source: The Crime Map
My first post on Using Google For Crime Analysis there was published this morning. Here's an excerpt:
Computer use in law enforcement has made many things possible that were once either impossible or laboriously time consuming. The Internet has exploded these possibilities even further. While there are quite a few software products out there specifically designed for crime analysis, often times these products are expensive and out of the reach for many crime analysts. However, some of my most useful tools are free. Source: The Crime Map
To read the rest of the article, hit the link.

Animal Cruelty Arrest

Killeen Police arrested a man accused of abusing a puppy.
A statement from the police department said officers responded to numerous 911 calls at 1701 Alamo Street about 4:30 a.m. Tuesday.

An officer saw 27-year-old Temoris Marquis Johnson beating the puppy over the head with his fist, police said. The puppy could be heard yelping about a block away, according to Killeen police.

Johnson was arrested and charged with felony cruelty to an animal and was being held in the Bell County Jail Wednesday with bail set at $25,000. Source: Austin American Statesman
I bet this guy doesn't have a current PETA membership card.

Another Day At The Office

I bet your work day at the office wasn't like this:
The male officer was struck by and thrown onto the hood of a Plymouth Neon driven by a 46-year-old woman shortly after 8 p.m.

The officer suffered minor injuries including a possible fractured leg, a paramedic said. The officer was taken to Scott & White Hospital in Temple.

The accident happened while the officer was responding to another accident involving a suspected drunken driver.

A blue Chevrolet Trailblazer driven by a woman hit a telephone pole near Hallmark Avenue and Wolf Street in Killeen around 8 p.m. Wednesday, Killeen police Sgt. Scott Meads said. The woman driving the Chevrolet was taken to Killeen City Jail on suspicion of drunken driving.

A purple Plymouth Neon struck the officer while he was taking information about the driver of the Chevrolet. Source: Killeen Daily Herald
It makes things like this that make you realize they don't pay police officers enough.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Step 18 - Learn If The 80 - 20 Rule Applies

For quite a while now I have been walking through the excellent book Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers one step at a time. In this post, we'll cover Step 18 - Learn If The 80 - 20 Rule Applies. While I have been summarizing and commenting on this book, it should in no way substitute you, as a crime analyst, actually reading the whole book. You can read it on the web, download a PDF copy or even order a printed version. There are so many good things in this book that it's worth keeping a dead trees version in your office.

The authors describe the 80-20 rule as:

This phenomenon is commonly called the 80-20 rule, where in theory 20 percent of some things are responsible for 80 percent of the outcomes. In practice, it is seldom exactly 80-20, but it is always a small percentage of something or some group involved in a large percentage of some result. Source: Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers

They also quote a number of crime studies that found similar results. Many in law enforcement have similar anecdotal accounts of a small number of prolific offenders being responsible for a large number of offenses. We see this when we clear a large number of cases by arresting one or two offenders.

None of us have an unlimited number of resources to fight crime, or at least no law enforcement agency that I am aware of does. (However, if you work for an agency with an unlimited number of resources, let me know so I can send you my resume.) With a limited number of resources, we should use those resources where they will have the greatest effect. Applying the 80-20 rule to this, if we can identify the small number of causes that have the greatest number of outcomes and then apply our limited resources to them we will have the greatest effect.

As an example, the authors point to an analysis of construction burglaries in Jacksonville, Florida. In their analysis it was determined that only 20 percent of the builders were victims of 85% of thefts and burglaries. If your analysis of problems in your city uncovers a similar disparity, it should cause you to look for the reason they are such a prolific victim. If you can get the victim to modify the behavior that makes them such an easy target you can have a significant impact on the number of crimes reported. As any police chief will tell you, lower crime numbers are always good.

Next time we'll look at Step 19 - Research Your Problem.

Killeen PD Seeks Missing Teen

The parents of a missing Killeen teenager and Killeen Police are seeking answers and a missing teen.
James, a son who his parents say never missed curfew by more than two hours, has been missing since Wednesday from his home at 3602 Palmtree Lane in Killeen. Killeen police confirmed Monday they are investigating James' disappearance.

Victoria Johnson went to work around 7:30 a.m. Wednesday while her son slept late because there was no school on Veterans Day.

James was gone when she returned home at 8:30 p.m.
Source: Killeen Daily Herald
James is described as:

  • James Johnson III
  • White Male, 16 years old
  • Height: 5'7" 
  • Weight: 175 pounds

If you have information regarding James or his whereabouts please contact the Killeen Police Department at (254) 501-8800.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Step 17 - Know How Hot Spots Develop

Our journey through Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers takes us to Step 17 - Know How Hot Spots Develop. With the increased use of GIS in law enforcement it becomes more common to see these tools used to determine crime "hotspots". The authors point out:
Analysts often examine hot spots by use of geography alone. This can often be a useful starting point, but to reduce or eliminate the hot spot you must look deeper to understand why it is a hot spot. Source: Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers
Just because your whiz bang software says that there is a hotspot at a particular location, this isn't necessarily the end of your work as an analyst. The authors believe you should dig a little deeper and try to determine why this is happening at this location. They list three types of situations that cause a hotspot. They are:

  • Crime generators
  • Crime attractors
  • Crime enablers

The main difference in these situations is the dynamics that cause the hotspot to occur. Is it because a large number of potential victims congregate in one place such as a shopping center? Is it because a large number of offenders tend to congregate in or near a prostitution stroll? or is it because there is a lack of effective behavioral controls at a location? In reality, a hotspot could have a combination of any of the three.

Hit the link to read the definitions. Also important is the chart at the bottom with suggested strategies should you make a determination of the situation(s) that led to your hotspot.

Next time we'll cover Step 18 - Learn If The 80 - 20 Rule Applies.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Two For The Price Of One

The Killeen Daily Herald has a story that follows up on a story I posted yesterday. It turns out there was a whole lot more to this one and Killeen Police solved two crimes with one arrest.
The bullets came from an AK-47 stolen from Action Pawn July 11, according to an arrest affidavit.

The mother was sitting on the couch in her apartment when bullets flew through her walls and caused her TV to explode. The woman grabbed her children and hid while she called police to the 5800 block of Redstone Drive in Killeen.

The woman's neighbor, Torrence Donell Brown, 26, fired the shots, which also hit two cars, the arrest affidavit stated.

Brown admitted he stole the gun from Action Pawn and fired the shots after police found shell casings in his apartment and matched palm prints from the Action Pawn theft.

An Action Pawn employee said Brown walked in with a towel over his head, jumped over the counter and ran away with the AK-47 July 11, according to the arrest affidavit. Source: Killeen Daily Herald
This story alludes to the fact that a majority of crimes are committed by a minority of criminals.

An Apple For The Teacher Won't Help This

Killeen Police arrested a student of a Charter School for bringing a gun and a knife to school.
A Killeen police officer arrested a male student who brought the weapons to the Destiny School of Performing Arts on Veterans Memorial Boulevard.

A teacher called the police after she was told that the student had a gun, according to a news release.

The officer removed the student from class and after a search, found a gun and a knife inside his book bag. Around 10:30 a.m., the student was transported to the Killeen City Jail.

John Dodd, president of the Honors Academy Charter School District, said Friday that the campus was secured immediately and nobody was hurt.

"The students are safe. … There wasn't any incident of fights or any threats," he said. "Many of the kids and teachers didn't even realize it took place." Source: Killeen Daily Herald
Since the student was 17 years old, he'll be charged as an adult under Texas law. He's about to get an education that he never expected when he gets to the County Jail.

Killeen Bank Robbed

Killeen Police and the FBI are investigating the Friday robbery of the Extraco Bank in Killeen.
The robbers jumped over the counter and demanded money from the clerks around 12:15 p.m. Friday, said Carroll Smith, Killeen police spokeswoman.

The robbers escaped in a gold four-door Cadillac, possibly a model from the late '80s or early '90s. The Cadillac included a tan landau top, similar to a convertible.

The robbers entered and escaped through the south door of the bank in the 200 block of West Jasper Road.

Killeen police described the robbers as two armed black men. The first robber, an approximately 6-foot-2-inch man, wore a black Fedora-like hat, a red bandana on his face, a long-sleeved gray shirt and blue jeans.

The second robber, an approximately 5-foot-10-inch, 170-pound man, wore a black ball cap, a black rag or scarf on his face, a blue long-sleeved shirt. Source: Killeen Daily Herald
Killeen CrimeStoppers pays cold hard cash for information that leads to solving this or any other crime. You can report your tip anonymously at the Killeen CrimeStoppers website.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Blood Drive Today For Injured HHPD Officer

I posted previously about a rookie Harker Heights officer that was seriously injured in a traffic accident. A blood drive is being organized to assist him.
A blood drive gives residents a chance to extend an arm for rookie Harker Heights police Officer Jeremy Hempel, 26, who is recovering from major injuries.

Hempel is in "good condition" at Scott & White Hospital in Temple, hospital spokesman Scott Clark said Thursday.

The blood drive aims to replenish the supply used to treat Hempel after he was injured in an off-duty accident on Nov. 3.

The blood drive will be from 9 a.m. to noon at the Harker Heights City Hall, located at 305 Miller's Crossing.

"He's doing a lot better, but he still has a long recovery and healing to do, " Police Chief Mike Gentry said. The department is optimistic Hempel will have a full recovery after Gentry spoke with him earlier this week.

Hempel was injured in an accident involving a deer and another car on his way home to Nolanville from the Harker Heights police station on Nov. 3. Source: Killeen Daily Herald


This accident is likely to be a huge financial hardship for him and his family. If you can donate blood today, I'm sure it would help.

A Residential Neighborhood Is Not A Rifle Range

A Killeen man was arrested after it was alleged that he shot up a Killeen neighborhood with a rifle.


Killeen police withheld the man's identity Thursday, pending a review by the Bell County District Attorney's Office.

Killeen officers uncovered a rifle when they walked inside an open door at 5802 Redstone Drive, a news release stated. Officers determined that shots from the rifle also damaged property, but no one was injured.

Police responded when residents complained of shots heard in the 5800 block of Redstone Drive around 6 a.m. Thursday.

The man was taken to the Killeen City Jail on a charge of deadly conduct discharge of a firearm. Source: Killeen Daily Herald
I never cease to be amazed at what goes on sometimes.

Fort Hood Shooter Charged

Army CID Officials announced that Nidal Malik Hasan, the alleged Fort Hood shooter will be charged with premeditated murder charges.
Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan has been charged with 13 preliminary counts of premeditated murder stemming from last week's shooting at Fort Hood Army Post, an Army investigator said Thursday.

Army Criminal Investigation Command spokesman Chris Grey said the investigation continues and Hasan, 39, may face additional charges at court-martial.

The Department of Defense said the charges make Hasan eligible for the death penalty. Source: CNN.com
In a number of news stories out there in the media, including this one from the Killeen Daily Herald, CID Spokesman Chris Grey alluded to the size of the investigation and also touched on the issue whether initial accounts of the shooting may be inaccurate.
Investigators are looking at every possible angle in the case, Grey said, but confirmed that Hasan was shot by two Fort Hood police officers – one male and one female – last week and said officials still believe there was only one gunman at the scene "involved in the actual shootings on Nov. 5."

"I would caution anyone from drawing final conclusions concerning the actual engagement in terms of who did what until all the evidence is fully analyzed," Grey said.

The investigation remains open under a joint task force that includes the CID, FBI and Texas Rangers.

The task force is working with numerous agencies, including first responders from the Killeen Police Department, Temple Police Department, Harker Heights Police Department and Coryell County Sheriff's Office, to get a complete picture of the entire event that unfolded last week; officials are seamlessly sharing information, Grey said.

"We are doing everything possible and looking at every reason for this shooting," Grey said. "We are aggressively following every possible lead." Source: Killeen Daily Herald
It would seem that the media's insatiable appetite to publish information NOW could tend to trump accuracy.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

More On The Serial Rapist

The KBTX website is reporting that investigators working on the serial rapist that has been targeting elderly women in Bell, Milam, Leon and Lavaca counties are looking into a report that one of the victims has been assaulted again.
Yoakum Police said the assault happened early Monday morning. The same woman was targeted in January by a man authorities believe is responsible for eight attacks on elderly women who live alone in Central and South Texas.

Another rape in Yoakum has already been linked by DNA to rapes in Marquez, in Leon County and Zabcikville, in Bell County. The suspect is also believed to be responsible for two other rapes in Leon County, another in Seaton, in Bell County, and one in Marlin, in Falls County.
...
Wednesday, word spread that a victim already assaulted by the serial rapist had been attacked again on Monday. While Investigators in Yoakum are trying to determine if the assault was done by the same man, the Leon County Sheriff's Office wasn't taking any chances.

"We felt it best that we go ahead and contact our victims up here," said Leon County Sheriff Jerry Wakefield. Wakefield said his office is also continuing heavy patrols near the three Leon County victims' homes. KBTX.com
If this report is true, it is very troubling.

If you have information about this crime or any other crime you can report it anonymously online at the Killeen CrimeStoppers website. CrimeStoppers pays cash for clues. Don't let the Killeen in the name fool you. You can report crimes from all over Central Texas to Killeen CrimeStoppers.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Don't Hold Your Breath

Provided the accused Fort Hood shooter is found guilty and given the death penalty, it's probably not too likely he'd be executed any time soon. KWTX is running a story about the military's death row.

The story also mentions Dwight Loving, a former Fort Hood soldier who murdered two Killeen taxi cab drivers in 1988.
Five condemned inmates are currently on the military’s death row at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. including a former Fort Hood soldier, but the military hasn’t carried out an execution in nearly 50 years.

Unlike in civilian courts, a defendant and his lawyer can be present at the military equivalent of a grand jury hearing, and the lawyer is allowed to present evidence and cross-examine witnesses.

Prosecutors in the military system also turn over many more documents to the defense before trial.

Hasan's jury would consist of at least 12 officers of higher rank or seniority, and legal experts say it would be "a very educated" panel.

Only the President of the United States can approve and order the execution of a military death sentence.

"Our military justice system is not bloodthirsty. That's clear," Eugene R. Fidell, who teaches military law at Yale, told The Associated Press.

There hasn't been a military execution since 1961 when John Bennett, was hanged for the rape and attempted murder of an 11-year-old Austrian girl.

One of the five inmates now on the military’s death row is former Fort Hood soldier Dwight Loving, who’s been awaiting execution for two decades.

Loving was a 20-year-old 1st Cavalry Division soldier when he was convicted in 1989 of murder in the killings of the two cab drivers, Christopher Fay, 20, a 13th Corps Support Command soldier who moonlighted as a driver and retired Master Sgt. Bobby Sharbino, 44.

Both men were found shot to death in their cabs in December 1988. Source: KWTX.com
The State of Texas has killing death row inmates down to a fine art and after the recent dustup over the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, some would probably argue Texas is a little too quick on the trigger. It doesn't look like the military justice system could be accused of being too quick on the trigger.

Hero Cop Makes It On Oprah

Apparently Kimberly Munley, the Fort Hood Department of the Army Police Officer that stopped the Fort Hood shooter while catching a couple of his bullets herself is doing well. CNN's website did a big piece on her and she and her partner were interviewed on Oprah.
Both Munley and Todd didn't know what they were about to face.

"The entire incident was very confusing and chaotic," Munley said. "There was many people outside pointing to the direction that this individual was apparently located, and as soon as I got out of my vehicle and ran up the hill was when things got pretty bad."

Once inside, Munley, who has been trained in active-response tactics, began exchanging fire with the alleged gunman, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, a military psychiatrist, authorities said. They said her shots disabled Hasan and halted the attacks.

Thirteen people -- 12 soldiers and one civilian -- were killed.

Munley suffered three gunshot wounds, in both thighs and a knuckle, and remains at Metroplex Adventist Hospital in good condition, authorities said.

"The training does take over," she said when asked about her quick reactions. "In that particular incident, we didn't have much time to think."

"When I got shot, it felt like a muscle being torn out of my leg," she told Winfrey, and added, "I'm doing well."

"Every day is a progress for me, and things are getting better day by day. And emotionally, I'm just hoping that the rest of the officers and the injured and the families of the deceased are healing as well." Source: CNN.com
I bet their lives are never going to be the same.

Another Case For A Serial Rapist?

I have posted quite a bit about a serial rapist operating in Lavaca, Leon, Falls and Bell Counties recently. The rapist has been targeting elderly women living alone in rural areas. KWTX is reporting that Texas Rangers were back in Lavaca County after another woman there was reportedly raped.
The latest attack occurred on Monday at a residence in Yoakum.

The victim was 67.

The first of the attacks occurred in January in Yoakum, where a 66-year-old woman was raped and robbed of about $12,000.

DNA has linked that attack and one in February in Lavaca County to several rapes of elderly women in Central Texas counties.

Since January, nine attacks have been reported. Source: KWTX.com
Someone out there knows something that could help police catch this guy. You can report information you have anonymously about this or any other crime at the Killeen CrimeStoppers website. They pay cold, hard cash for clues.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"That's Not My Dope!"

Several felons were sentenced in Bell County District Court actions for their misdeeds, including this one:
Judge Joe Carroll of the 27th District Court sentenced Tawaun Edward Stewart, 31, with concurrent terms for both charges.

On Sept. 2, 2008, an officer investigating a traffic accident involving a vehicle driven by Stewart saw Stewart place an item on the side of the road. The officer examined the object and found it appeared to be cocaine.

When the officer put Stewart in handcuffs, Stewart said, "That's not my dope," despite no one having mentioned drugs to him, the arrest affidavit stated.

The substance tested positive for cocaine. Source: Killeen Daily Herald
There were a number of other cases disposed of. Hit the link for details.

KPD Officer Is A "Hurtin' Machine"

It's probably best not to mess with this Killeen Police officer.
Jeff "The Hurtin' Machine" Mullenax, an officer with the Killeen Police Department, won the heavyweight championship in the senior blue belt division of the 2009 World Jiu-Jitsu No-Gi Championships on Sunday in Long Beach, Calif.

Mullenax, 37, who trains at the Grappler's Lair in Belton, can now call himself an international martial arts champion.

"I was very happy with my performance," said Mullenax, who started training daily at the gym in 2006. "If you would've told me a year ago that I was going to be competing in international events and winning, I would've called you crazy." Source: Temple Daily Telegram
Great job Jeff!

Monday, November 9, 2009

New Web Address

Just a note that The Crime Analyst's Blog has a new, simpler URL (website address). It is:

http://www.crimeanalystblog.net/

You can still get to it via the old URL but you might want to update your bookmarks accordingly.

KPD Investigating Fatal Hit & Run

A woman is dead and a man is in jail in a Hit & Run that occured this weekend.
Police officials said that a 63-year-old Killeen woman was arguing with a man in a gray van. She walked away from the van, and the driver put the van in reverse and ran her over, officials said, fleeing the scene. The woman was airlifted to Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center where she was pronounced deceased around 8:45 p.m.

Officers located a van matching the description of the suspect’s vehicle a short time later. The driver, a 32-year-old Hispanic male, was taken into custody on an unrelated charge and transported to the Killeen City Jail. Source: Austin American Statesman
I don't know about you but I'm not so sure this is your typical traffic "accident".

Friday, November 6, 2009

Kimberly Munley, Hero.

Here's a couple of stories on the hero Fort Hood DA Police Officer who shot the Fort Hood shooter.
Army police officer Kimberly Munley arrived at the scene of Thursday’s shooting about seven minutes after it began, the head of Fort Hood’s emergency service said today.

Munley was outside the Soldier Readiness Center building when the shooter, who officials say is Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, emerged from the building gun in hand, said Chuck Medley, the director of emergency services at Fort Hood.

Hasan ran toward Munley, firing at her, Medley said. Munley returned fire with her pistol, hitting him.

Munley was shot in both legs and one wrist but is expected to make a full recovery, Medley said. He did not know how many times she was shot.

Hasan was shot four times, officials have said. He is reportedly in stable condition at an undisclosed hospital.

Medley said he visited Munley, 35, in the hospital early this morning and she was in good spirits.

“She’s got some surgeries (ahead) but she’s stable,” he said. “She’s the most upbeat injured person I’ve met.”

He said the military is flying her husband, who is stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., to see her soon.

Munley is a civilian police officer with the Department of the Army and serves as a SWAT team member and firearms instructor for the department, Medley said. He said she joined the police force in January 2008 after serving in the Army. Source: Austin American Statesman
And another one:
“She happened to encounter the gunman. In an exchange of gunfire, she was wounded but managed to wound him four times,” Cone said. “It was an amazing and aggressive performance by this police officer.”

Munley is the daughter of Dennis Barbour, a former mayor of Carolina Beach. The coastal town is located about 15 miles south of Wilmington. Source: Austin American Statesman
Maybe "hero" is not strong enough a word to describe the outstanding job she did.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

More On The Fort Hood Shooting

There's going to be a lot on this. Probably going to be information overload. Unless something else significant pops up on this, this is probably going to be my last post on it as I doubt I will have anything else significant to offer.
A mass shooting Thursday at Fort Hood, the largest U.S. Army base in the world, has resulted in 12 deaths, including one shooter, and 31 wounded.

Lt. Gen. Robert Cone confirmed that one of the three suspected shooters, a soldier, is dead, and the other two suspects, also soldiers, are in custody.

Lt. Gen. Robert Cone says the three shooters were soldiers.
The suspect that was confirmed dead has been identified at Major Malik Nadal Hasan. Hasan was reportedly shot by authorities.

Officials at Fort Hood said the incident began at 1:30 p.m. when one soldier entered the Soldiers Readiness Processing Center and Howze Theater on Fort Hood and opened fire. Source: News 8 Austin

What a mess.

Active Shooter On Fort Hood

I'm sure there will be a lot more on this in the next few days.
The Associated Press reports that seven are dead and 15 more are injured, but other reports place the number of injured at 20.

All available ambulances and paramedics in the area were responding to post.

The shooting happened in on Battalion Avenue.

Killeen ISD officials say all schools on post are on lock down because of the situation. Source: KWTX.com

What a mess.

TPD Investigating Stabbings

Temple Police were working a double stabbing this morning.
Police were called at 6:28 a.m. Thursday to investigate a reported stabbing in the 1400 block of Avenue E in Temple.
Discount Floors Superstore

Investigating officers found a man and a woman at the reported address suffering from stab wounds.

Temple Police Sgt. Brad Hunt told News 10 the woman was taken to Scott and White Hospital with multiple stab wounds that were considered life threatening while the man was treated on the scene for minor stab wounds.

The victims reported to police that the assailant fled the scene on foot.

Detectives recovered a knife from the scene.

Police had not yet determined a motive for the attack Thursday morning but it was clear the victims did know the attacker. Source: KWTX.com

It's just another day in the big city.

HHPD Rookie Needs Help

A newly minted Harker Heights Police Officer was critically injured in a off-duty traffic accident and HHPD is asking for the communities help.
Harker Heights police are optimistic Jeremy Hempel, 26, will return to duty, though his recovery is expected to be a lengthy process, Police Chief Mike Gentry said Wednesday.

While Hempel continued to recover Wednesday at Scott & White Hospital in Temple, Harker Heights officials scheduled a blood drive for Nov. 13 to honor him and replenish the blood required to treat him.

The blood drive will be from 9 a.m. to noon at Harker Heights City Hall, located at 305 Miller's Crossing.

Hempel was injured in an accident on his way home to Nolanville from the Harker Heights police station Tuesday. Hempel's Geo Metro collided with a deer in the eastbound lanes of U.S. 190.

When the Geo struck the deer, Hempel lost control and swerved into oncoming traffic. His vehicle smashed into a blue Mazda 3 headed west.

Paramedics airlifted Hempel to Scott & White, where he underwent surgery Tuesday night to stop internal bleeding, Harker Heights Fire Chief Jack Collier said. Source: Killeen Daily Herald

This is likely to be a significant financial hardship for his family. If you're in a position to help, please do so. For more information you can contact the Harker Heights Police Department. Their contact info is on their website.

Indictments This Week

A Belton man and a Killeen man were both indicted for separate violent incidents were one man was stabbed and another was shot. Hit the link for details.

No Trick Or Treat For You

The Texas Attorney General's office arrested four sex offenders including a Killeen man for violating their Halloween curfews.
A convicted sex offender from Killeen is one of four men that the Texas Attorney General’s Fugitive Unit arrested during a crackdown that targeted paroled offenders who failed to comply with conditions that require them to avoid young trick-or-treaters on Halloween, Attorney General Greg Abbott said Wednesday.

David Sanders, 39, was arrested Monday at his mother’s house in Killeen for failure to comply with a Halloween night curfew.

He was sentenced to three years in prison after his conviction in 2000 in Illinois for the aggravated sexual abuse of a 14-year-old girl, Abbott’s office said. Source: KWTX.com

Maybe it was the candied apples that drew him out on Halloween night.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

More On The Serial Rapist

The Killeen Daily Herald followed up other media stories with some specific information released at a Leon County community meeting about the serial rapist that has been attacking elderly women in Bell, Leon and Milam Counties.
Residents in Marquez, where two attacks happened, started a crime watch program. Walter encourages other communities to start a crime watch and make sure the public knows.

"They should let it be known in the community that's out there. So everybody will know, even the crook. So it will cut not only chances of him hitting there, but cut down on other crimes," Walter said.

The first sign of an attack is when phone lines are cut. The attacker is scouting his homes weeks prior to the attack. In some instances, he steals home keys and then cuts the phone lines. Walter urged any elderly person who has their phone lines cut or disconnected to report it to local law enforcement.

The victims all share similarities: elderly widows living alone in well-kept brick homes off main roads. The only exceptions were attacks earlier this year in Lavaca County, which happened off less-traveled roads, Walter said. Most of the attacks happened off Highway 7.

None of the homes had dogs or alarms. Walter recommended elderly residents have pepper spray, get a dog and/or keep a noisemaker such as a push-button car alarm next to their bed.

"Just as long as it makes noise because he won't stick around for that," Walter said. Source: Killeen Daily Herald

If you have information about this crime or any other crime you can report it anonymously at the Killeen CrimeStoppers website. CrimeStoppers pays cold, hard cash for clues.

It's Almost The Holiday Shoplifting Season

A group of shoplifters led Temple Police on a chase that ended up in Milam County. Temple Police managed to snag one of the sticky fingered trio at the mall while Milam County snagged another one.
The officer who was on a security assignment at the Temple Dillard’s store spotted the two women at around 9 p.m. Monday.

He followed the women into the parking lot of the mall, where a man was at the wheel of a waiting car.

The officer detained one woman, but the other got in the car, which drove off.

A second officer arrived just as the driver pulled onto Loop 363 and tried to pull the car over.

But the driver sped up, police said, and the officer briefly gave chase, but broke off the pursuit on Highway 190 as the car headed toward Rogers.

Milam County sheriff’s deputies later found the vehicle abandoned with stolen merchandise still inside, police said.

Milam County deputies arrested the second woman later Monday night, police said.

The driver of the car, however, remains at large.

Police identified the woman detained at the mall as Dawanna Deoshae Harrison, 27, of Waco and the woman arrested in Milam County as Brandi Nichole Degrate, 24, of Waco. Source: KWTX.com

Just like law abiding shoppers are gearing up for the holidays, retailers are preparing for a rush of another less welcome sort.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Serial Rapist Community Meeting

In another story about the serial rapist currently working in Bell, Leon and Milam counties, law enforcement held a community meeting in Centervile to discuss the cases.
Starting in January, a serial rapist has targeted at least eight elderly women between the ages of 70 and 95. The crimes have been committed in four counties including Bell, Falls, Lavaca and Leon.

Leon County sheriff Jerry Wakefield says, “This is something that’s got to cease immediately.”

Investigators from all four counties were at the meeting to talk about some of the details of the crimes and how people can protect themselves.

The rapist preys on women who live at home alone in rural areas along the Highway Seven corridor. At least four of the cases are linked by DNA evidence, and they all share similar details. The rapist would cut phones lines and sometimes power before he would break in.

Right now investigators need the public’s help because they say they’re stuck. There are no solid descriptions of the rapist, and no clues to a motive. Source: KCENDT.com

Someone out there has information about this rapist. You can report information anonymously at the Killeen CrimeStopper's website. CrimeStoppers pays cold hard cash for clues.

Monday, November 2, 2009

I Guess This Makes It Official

Falls County SO released information today that DNA analysis of evidence in an attack on an elderly woman is related to other similar attacks in the area.
The Falls County Sheriff’s Office received notification Monday that DNA evidence gathered from the home of an elderly woman who was sexually assaulted earlier this month matches DNA from similar attacks in Leon and Bell Counties as well as in Lavaca County.

Two of the attacks happened in Bell County, three occurred in Leon County and one occurred in Falls County.

Two others happened in Lavaca County.

In each case, elderly women living alone in rural areas were targeted.

The attacker cut phone lines to the women’s homes before breaking in during the early morning hours.

The most recent attack was on Oct. 24 in Leon County, where an elderly woman escaped from her would-be attacker and then fled from her home.
...
A town hall meeting on the attacks will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the Leon County Courthouse in Centerville. Source: KWTX.com

I guess this can be officially considered a "serial rapist" case. It seemed there for a while that law enforcement was being pretty cagey about whether these cases were related.

Increased public and media attention is liable to help make this case unless someone kills this guy first. From what's been released the last victim nearly shot this guy during her escape.

What's The Crime Rate?

As a crime analyst a question I hear all the time is: "What's the crime rate?" Usually, someone is wanting to move to a city or a neighborhood and they call up the police department and ask this question prior to inking the deal on their new home.

The problem is that almost everyone that asks it has no idea what they are saying. They usually know the information they want, and the crime rate really isn't what they want. I guess the first thing we should cover is what a rate is. A rate is a measurement of the ratio between two numbers. Merriam-Webster describes it as: "a quantity, amount or degree of something measured per unit of something else". In that respect the crime rate would be a ratio of the measurement crime to something else.

There are a number of ways to measure crime. For reference, the Wikipedia article on Crime Statistics and on the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports program discuss this in detail. I'll try to summarize it all here. Crime analysts, researchers and statisticians usually measure crime by:

  • Crimes reported to police
  • Numbers of arrests made for specific crimes
  • Surveys of victims

Each way has their own strengths and weaknesses. For example, if you measure Crimes Reported to Police, you will miss crimes that go unreported. In some cases, almost all incidents are reported for a crime like murder. However, only about 1 in 4 cases of sexual assault may be reported. Victimization surveys try to rectify under reporting by asking people if they have been victimized and extrapolating that out to cover an entire population. Arrests can also be problematic because many crimes go unsolved, for instance the clearance rates for arson is usually one of the lowest. In Texas in 2008, arson cases were cleared in only 16% of the time.

Now back to crime rate. For crime analysts, the term "Crime Rate" usually refers to the numbers of reported crimes per 100,000 population. In other words it's a ratio of the number of crimes to a set number of persons in a population. Most agencies keep track of the number crimes reported to them using standards set forth by the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports program (UCR). Since laws vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, UCR tries to put all agencies on the same sheet of music for reporting crimes. The most commonly tracked UCR crimes are what are called Part 1 Offenses. UCR Part 1 offenses include:

  • Murder
  • Rape
  • Robbery
  • Serious or Aggravated Assaults
  • Burglary
  • Larceny
  • Vehicle Theft

As you can see this is a very small number of the total types of crimes. However, it's a pretty good cross section. Used to be, they were add all the reported Part 1 crimes up to determine what they called the UCR Part 1 Crime Index or "Index Crimes". In recent years they have gotten away from this and now add the violent and non-violent crimes up separately.

Each month a law enforcement agency sends the total numbers of UCR Part 1 Crimes to their designated state agency who then compiles them and sends them to the FBI. Here in Texas we send our numbers to the Texas Department of Public Safety. Each year, they compile a report called Crime in Texas that lists these and several other types of statistics. Later in the year the FBI will compile a larger report called Crime in the United States.

In addition to the raw counts of crimes reported, these reports will list the crime rate for a particular city, state or country. For instance, the 2008 Crime in Texas lists that the murder rate in Texas was 5.6 murders for every 100,000 persons.

I'm not really sure that this is what someone is looking for when they want to buy a home or move to a particular city. What people really want to know is how safe will they be in their new home? Will they be victimized? These answers are a lot harder to quantify. Here's a few suggestions:

Does the law enforcement agency have publicly available crime maps? Where I work we publish UCR Part 1 Crimes on an interactive crime map you can view using a web browser. This puts dots on a map where a UCR Part 1 Crime was reported for a period of time. If you don't want to live where there is a lot of crime, don't live where there are lots of dots. Most people don't get to chose what city they live in as they are tied to a city by their job. They do have a choice about neighborhoods though. Get a list of suitable houses you are interested in and look at a crime map for those locations. Which one has more dots over a period of time? You can probably cross that one off your list.

If the law enforcement agency does not have available crime maps, ask them to list the types of crimes reported on that street for a period of time and compare that to one of the other streets on your list. You may have to file an open records act request to get them from some agencies. At my agency, we can list them verbally to you without the request, if you want printed documentation you have to file an open records act request.

Check your state's sex offender registry. In Texas, the Department of Public Safety has a publicly available sex offender registry that even has a mapping feature. You can put in an address and see where the closest registered sex offenders reside.

Drive through the neighborhood at different times of the day and day of the week. Does it look unsafe? Are there signs of urban blight such as boarded up houses, junk vehicles, etc?

When you narrow your choices down, talk to the neighbors around your prospective new home? Ask them about the neighborhood. Ask them if they have ever been victimized while living there?

Google the address. As more and more newspapers and TV stations have websites you will often find stories that refer to an address. Some media outlets have policies about using a specific house number so you might want to just search the street name and city/state to get results. Keep in mind that editorial policies may mean that not every reported crime makes it into a news story. However, if there was a triple axe murder on the street last month you can probably be sure it made it to the news somewhere.

Visit the neighborhood school and talk with the staff especially if you have kids that will go there. Ask them how their school compares with other schools in the district for standardized test scores, children in a free or reduced meal program and size of their PTA. Generally, the better a school does on test scores, and the more the PTA is involved, the more the people in the area are to care about their community or neighborhood. Also, a school with a significant number of children on free or reduced meals can indicate that the school serves an economically blighted area. Lets face it, it is not uncommon for crime to be higher in poorer neighborhoods.

When you move into that new home call your local police department and see if they have a crime prevention program. Most Departments will come and do home inspections to help point out precautions you can take to avoid becoming a victim.

None of these tips will absolutely protect you from becoming a victim. Crime is often times unpredictable. However, these should help you make an informed decision. One better than one based on the answer to "What's the crime rate?"