KYLE, Texas (KXAN) – As more people move to the outskirts of Austin, the steady growth is causing some big problems for small police departments.
In Kyle, Police Chief Jeff Barnett says his officers are working overtime due to the amount of crashes happening, not only on Interstate 35 but in the city of Kyle as well. According to Barnett, the average amount of crashes his officers are working each month is around 122.
“Obviously we see a lot more crashes now because of the amount of people traveling through Kyle and in Kyle. A lot of the crashes — the major accidents we are seeing are on the interstate, but we are seeing some in town,” said Kyle Police Department Captain Pedro Hernandez.
Hernandez says the Kyle Police Department only has 44 police officers, and some of those are still in training. During the last week of July, Kyle PD responded to 47 crashes, an overwhelming amount for the department.
“It sounded like an explosion, I ran outside to find a vehicle stuck to the wall of my home,” said Kyle Resident Peter Cienega.
The car that drove into Cienega’s home happened to be one of the crashes police responded to during the last week of July. He says he has also started to notice the increase in traffic incidents in the city.
With less than 50 officers, the department says it only takes one major wreck to tie up every single on-duty officer, forcing off-duty officers to clock in and work other emergency calls throughout the city.
“Our officers just have to prioritize on their shift, their supervisor has to prioritize who responds to what and when they respond to it. Obviously a major car crash on the interstate is pretty important to get to pretty quick because of the volume of traffic out on the interstate,” said Hernandez.
Due to the large amount of wrecks the police department works, Hernandez says his officers excel at investigating car crashes and have actually helped other cities.
“Unfortunately, we’ve had a lot of experience because we’ve had a lot of fatality accidents in our city in the last several years. I believe we have an excellent crash investigation team, like I said they are very knowledgeable they have received a lot of advanced training, they received their certification and I believe at least two of them are full blown accident re-constructionist,” said Hernandez.
In smaller cities experiencing rapid growth like Buda and Kyle, there’s just one officer for nearly 800 or 900 people. In San Marcos, there’s one officer per 584 people and in Austin there’s one officer per 509 people.