After Dripping Springs robbery, a new push for city’s own police department

Police searching for suspects in jewelry store robbery (Courtesy of Hays County Sheriff's Office)
Police searching for suspects in jewelry store robbery (Courtesy of Hays County Sheriff's Office)

DRIPPING SPRINGS, Texas (KXAN) – People in Dripping Springs are wondering if it’s time for the city to add a police department after an aggravated robbery last Saturday.

In security camera video you can see two armed men hold up employees at Vik’s Jewelers on East US 290 before shooting open a display case. As it is now, the city is covered by the Hays County Sheriff’s Department which is investigating the robbery and still searching for the suspects.

Deputies say an aggravated robbery like this doesn’t happen very often in Hays County.

“They are lucky the rounds, after they hit the display case, didn’t ricochet and hit an employee,” said sheriff’s department spokesperson Dennis Gutierrez. “It’s very scary.”

In a town with just a few thousand people, the robbery sparked an online debate among locals, many questioning if there is enough police presence in the small town.

Downtown Dripping Springs. (KXAN photo)
Downtown Dripping Springs. (KXAN photo)

“Sometimes we say yes we need to add it and some say, well I don’t think so. I still think we need it,” said resident Emilio Rovedo.

We talked with dozens in Dripping Springs and the majority said they would support a police department, while some believe there isn’t a major problem with crime in the area.

The idea of adding more law enforcement in Dripping Springs is something the city has been thinking about since last year. According to the city’s comprehensive plan, leaders hope to work with the county in funding additional officers for the city by early next year and are even looking to hire a full time city marshal by 2020. The city estimates the additional staff could cost more than $100,000 annually.

If the city decides to help pay for extra Hays County Deputies, the Dripping Springs Comprehensive Plan says it will benefit from the law enforcement presence without having the full cost and liability of its own police force.

Without a police department, the city says it leans on the sheriff’s department for weekly crime reports, which shows an increase county-wide. “Whether or not this kind of crime is increasing, again we haven’t had an aggravated robbery like this in a very long time. I would say that crime is just keeping up with the population increase,” said Gutierrez.

A little more than 3,000 people live in Dripping Springs proper, which hugs US 290 West and Ranch Road 12. Quite a few new neighborhoods sit just outside the city limits. While the circumstances for creating a police department are different in each municipality, we wanted to see how that city compares to others with similar populations in Central Texas.

Wimberley is about the same size and does not have its own police department. However, Liberty Hill, Johnson City and Blanco are all smaller and have their own forces. Horseshoe Bay and Llano have police as well, and both have populations around 3,500.

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