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New low crime report hurts far east El Paso's chances for more police presence
By: Stacey Welsh
EL PASO, Texas -- A new report from CQ Press ranks El Paso as the safest large city in the country for the fourth year in a row, even accounting for exploding population growth on the east side.
More and more neighborhoods are going up on the far east side past Loop 375, and El Paso County predicts there could be about 50,000 new homes in the next 20 years.
Despite these figures, the El Paso Police Department does not expect to build a new regional command center in the next few years.
"We have five regional commands, and what they do is look at the amount of crime, the population and what that region actually needs," Detective Mike Baranyay said.
Baranyay said the Pebble Hills Regional Command Center covers the largest population, and the Police Department is made up of about 1,100 officers. He said they are split up within regional command centers based on the population of the area.
"We've been extremely fortunate the last couple of years, in that we've been able to put one to two police academies through in a single year. What that helps us do is at least maintain, if not add a couple of officers to the streets," Baranyay said.
However, reports finding low crime rates for El Paso, like the latest one, make it difficult to justify spending more to build a new regional command center.
"In order to open that, we need resources. We need not just officers, we need the building, the vehicles and we need the equipment," Baranyay said.
El Paso District 5 Rep. Dr. Michiel Noe said his district takes on all the new far east growth, making it the largest, with more than 100,000 people. Noe said he has been pushing for a new regional command center to account for the increased population.
Some far east El Paso residents told KFOX14 they would like to see more police patrols in their neighborhood.
"I personally had my Christmas wreath stolen about three weeks ago. It's kind of upsetting because it's Christmastime, and you don't really expect something like that to happen," far east El Paso resident Amanda Serna said.
While Baranyay said the Police Department would of course like to add as many new officers as possible, police have not received more patrol requests in the far east compared to other parts of the city.