The downturn follows a general trend nationwide among cities reporting fewer crimes to a federal database. But local officials say other factors are involved in making McKinney the safest Texas city of its size in 2018, according to a report released in April.
The low crime rate is particularly important as the city looks to attract more residents and businesses.
“We are very fortunate to have a very low crime rate in McKinney,” McKinney Police Chief Greg Conley said.
A city’s crime rate is based on the number of serious felonies in seven categories known as index crimes per 1,000 residents. Those crimes include assaults, burglaries and larceny thefts, among others.
In 2013, the city’s crime rate was 22.08 crimes per 1,000 residents. But last year, McKinney’s crime rate was 12.09, which was the lowest rate among Texas cities with more than 100,000 residents, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Officials say it is worth noting that the crime rate is declining despite the city’s rapid growth.
McKinney was among the 10 fastest-growing U.S. cities with at least 50,000 residents between July 2017 and July 2018, according to the latest estimates.
From 2013-18, the number of index crimes in McKinney decreased by nearly half, while the city’s population increased by nearly 43,000 residents.
Index crimes can be divided into property crimes and violent crimes. Property crimes include burglary, motor vehicle theft and larceny theft. Violent crimes are murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.
According to the McKinney Police Department’s criminal activity reports, the rate of property crimes is significantly decreasing, while the rate of violent crimes has continued to fluctuate over the years.
However, violent crimes are trending downward nationwide, said Bob Wall, a criminal justice lecturer at the University of North Texas.
“In general, since the ‘80s there has been a pretty drastic drop in crime, particularly violent crime nationally,” Wall said. “In general, most places, including the Dallas-Fort Worth area and Collin County, have followed that trend, with some exceptions. ... There are little pockets that have their own specialized [characteristics] that cause a blip in crime.”
The two crimes decreasing the most in McKinney are burglary and larceny theft.
The McKinney Police Department reported 480 burglaries in 2013, but in 2018 it saw 252—a nearly 50% decrease. During this time, larceny thefts decreased by nearly 35%, according to department data.
What is changing?
It is reasonable to assume that a population boom would have instead resulted in more crime, Wall said. But that is not the case in McKinney, Conley said.
The types of developments opening in McKinney, such as headquarters and commercial developments, seem to be attracting a more professional demographic, Conley said.
“The type of development that’s occurring here in this part of North Texas is very business-oriented, and so folks that are moving here are [doing so] because of jobs,” Conley said. “The numbers show that the [demographic] of who’s moving here is not a high-crime demographic, so we see our rates going down.”
Studies have shown that populations with higher socioeconomic status, such as higher education and income levels, result in less crime, Wall said.
McKinney’s median household income is nearly $88,000, and at least 92% of the population has a high school diploma or higher education, according the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
But several other factors play into the city’s decreasing crime rate, such as the McKinney Police Department’s extended efforts in increasing residents’ awareness through community involvement and expanding the department.
In addition to hiring more police officers each year to keep up with the growth, the department developed an Intelligence and Crime Reporting Analysis unit to review crime data and look for offense patterns and repeat offenders.
“All those things are necessary and the view has been, ‘Let’s maintain this quality of life that we have, and ... this crime rate that we have,’ and we’ve been able to do that,” Conley said.
Collin County and the majority of cities in the county are also seeing crime rates decrease.
In 2018, Collin County, including its cities and unincorporated areas, had a total crime rate of 14.19 crimes per 1,000, and in 2017, it had 15.01 crimes per 1,000 residents, according to the DPS.
Dallas-area criminals tend to stay away from Collin County because the county is known for being tough on crimes, said Frederick Frazier, McKinney City Council member and Dallas Police Department detective.
“Criminals are likely to get caught and will be held accountable for their crimes in Collin County,” Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis said in an email.
A collaborative effort between the county and its cities is what helps maintain a safe place to live and work, Willis said in the email.
“If Collin County loses our sense of safety, it won’t attract and keep business and residents,” Willis said. “Our ‘tough on crime’ reputation is hard-earned between the police, the citizens and the prosecutors, and the DA’s office is looking to keep that dynamic intact as the county grows.”