Crime on the rise
by Matt Naber
Nov 23, 2013 | 397 views | 0 0 comments | 46 46 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Three Rivers has more traffic than Interstate 37 each day, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. With increased traffic comes an increase in traffic violations, but Three Rivers Police Chief Vance Roberts is confident that TRPD is equipped for the challenge.

Three Rivers sits at the intersection of highways 72 and 281, for a total of 23,000 vehicles passing through daily, compared to the interstate’s 17,000. Highway 72 contributes an average of 9,000 vehicles to the local traffic and the rest comes from Highway 281.

“We probably have five semi-trucks to every car,” Roberts said. “Our truck traffic is phenomenal.”

Roberts said there used to be one or two wrecks each month, but now there are one to three per week and sometimes more within the city limits.

“Our main concern is the dad-gum traffic (violations). They have quadrupled, I have no doubt in my mind,” Roberts said.

Prior to development within the Eagle Ford Shale a few years ago, TRPD issued about 150-200 citations per month, according to Roberts. That number is now between 500 and 600 citations. This includes everything from speeding violations and running red lights to exhibition accelerations, when a motorist rapidly accelerates from a stopped position.

“Honestly, I feel like there are 8,000 to 10,000 people in the area now,” Roberts said. “People don’t realize you police the through-traffic as well.”

Roberts said 98 percent of the wrecks that occur within Three Rivers’ city limits are because one driver will wave another through at an intersection, and the other driver will go despite being unable to see oncoming traffic.

“People wave them through, and, bam—they get hit,” Roberts said.

The deadliest intersections in Three Rivers are Tips Street and Highway 281, and Dibrell Avenue and Highway 72, according to Roberts. He advised drivers stick to the lighted intersections and take an extra 10-15 minutes when planning trips to Three Rivers because traffic is so congested.

Roberts says it’s not all negative in Three Rivers. As a business owner, he also sees the positive changes that have occurred, and he attributes that to the Eagle Ford Shale and to the Rio Grande Valley’s influence on Three Rivers.

“One thing that is a positive is we haven’t really seen an increase in burglaries and thefts,” Roberts said. “I think that is because the city council has been generous to allow me to add officers to deter criminal activity in Three Rivers.”

TRPD added four officers in the last three years for a total of 10 officers. Roberts said he likes to keep a minimum of three units on each shift, one as a supervisor and two to oversee calls.

Some crimes still slip through the radar.

Roberts said Three Rivers is seeing an increase in intoxicated driving, public intoxication and employee thefts.

TRPD used to have one or two instances of public intoxication per month, that number has escalated to six to 10 per month, according to Roberts.

Alcohol isn’t the only substance abuse issue the town is facing. Crystal ice and methamphetamine are the main drugs appearing in Three Rivers; previously, it was marijuana.

“Drugs were here before this hit, and they will be (here) after they are gone,” Roberts said. “They are contagious, and we do the best we can to curtail it. It’s sad, but it’s the truth.”

Roberts said he believes Three Rivers is due for more growth soon if natural gas prices increase. He also said more officers will be requested as the city grows.

“We will probably see another boom in the next year,” Roberts said. “I’m hoping and anticipating it will happen. And if it does, it’s going to be good for all of us.”
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