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Violent crimes involving minors in Texarkana impact TISD

Public records show increasing numbers of juvenile arrests in attendance zones
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Texarkana+has+seen+a+rise+in+crime+among+teenagers+from+petty+crimes+to+gun+violence+and+even+murder.+Public+records+show+the+majority+of+these+crimes+have+happened+within+the+attendance+zones+of+TISD.%0A%28photo+illustration%29
Zoey McIntosh
Texarkana has seen a rise in crime among teenagers from petty crimes to gun violence and even murder. Public records show the majority of these crimes have happened within the attendance zones of TISD. (photo illustration)

Stepping into Texas High, people naturally observe and interact with their peers who surround them. These people turn into their community. The community turns into friends. Those friends turn into family. Students are required to attend around 180 days of school and spend the majority of their time on campus, so the culture that surrounds them can influence the way they act significantly.

Four public high schools reside within the city limits of Texarkana, and Texas High is the largest, with 1,750 enrolled. With all these students comes various backgrounds, home lives and family criminal history. However, Texarkana has seen a rise in crime among teenagers from petty crimes to gun violence and even murder, with the majority of those crimes occurring in the boundaries of Texarkana Independent School District. 

“When I started in 2010, it did seem there were areas in town that had higher incidents of crime,” said Kelley Crisp, first assistant criminal attorney for Bowie County. “Now we have violent crimes involving teenagers all around town.”

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Texarkana Texas Police Department made over 300 arrests for juvenile charges from Jan. 1, 2020 to Dec. 5, 2023, throughout all six of the beats they patrol. Of those arrests, around 30% of them were violent crimes involving bodily injury, death or illegal use of a firearm or weapon. 

The off-campus crimes take place in various areas of Texarkana. The Texas side of the city is divided up into different beats (figure a) by the police department, often referred to by citizens as neighborhoods. There are six total beats that the Texarkana Texas Police Department patrols, all of which have different numbers of juvenile arrests. 

TISD occupies a small area of every beat, if not the whole beat. In contrast, other districts, such as Pleasant Grove Independent School District and Liberty Eylau Independent School District, do not occupy more than a partial area of two beats.

According to information provided by TTPD, beat three is the smallest at only 755 acres, the next largest is beat four with 1,924 acres. Beat three is also one of only two fully occupied by TISD and is in the heart of the district. The proportion of juvenile arrests to acreage of the beats is far more substantial in beat three compared to the remaining ones, with an average of 6.4 arrests per acre of land. For the remaining five beats, the highest rate is 2.8 arrests per acre, with the lowest at .6 arrests per acre for juvenile arrests.

Figure B.
The TISD district spreads throughout the majority of Texarkana and occupies an area in all of TTPD’s six beats. Other districts in Texarkana, Texas do not cover as much land. (submitted photo)
Figure A.
Texarkana Texas Police Department divides Texarkana, Texas into six separate beats that officers patrol. Beat three has the highest arrests per acre and is fully occupied by TISD. (submitted photo)

Public records show there have been several students in the past five years who went to Texas High at one point in their educational career who either were convicted or charged with violent crimes, including murder, while they were of school age. 

“In the past three or four years, our office has prosecuted several individuals who were current or former students at Texas High School,” Crisp said. “In cases involving crimes occurring on campus, we often work closely with TISD’s experienced and professional police force to obtain just and right outcomes for each case.”

With the amount of crimes committed found in public records along with the different averages of juvenile arrests, there is an outstanding correlation between the location of the crimes with the school district and the students of Texas High School. However, Texas High administration believes that the number of incidents on-campus do not reflect the off-campus crime trends. 

“I wouldn’t say there has been a trend up or down [on-campus],” Turner said.  “Like with any other school district, some years there is more discipline and some years there is less.”

Texas High receives transfer students each year, several from Red Lick Middle School. Students from Red Lick can choose between several schools when moving into high school, and some choose Texas High due to its aspirations for on-campus safety.

All six beats differ in the amount of arrests per acre, with beats in the heart of TISD having the most juvenile arrests. (Truth Dukes)

“The faculty has always made it a priority to separate the students from any outside factors that could be harmful,” senior Mollie Fisher said. “I chose Texas High because I believe I feel safer than I would at any other school in the city.”

New security enhancements, including metal detectors, have curbed on-campus incidents regarding weapons, but these situations often carry on or even start off-campus.  Off-campus interactions, however, that make their way onto campus are dealt with as any other incident. 

“[We have seen] quite a few [incidents] over the years,” assistant principal Matthew Turner said. “We work with several agencies to try and stay ahead of off-campus issues that may find their way onto campus.” 

TISD administrators focus on the positive aspects of Texas High, but it is hard for students to ignore the crimes that their classmates have committed.  

“I’m definitely more vigilant and cautious around people [because of previous incidents],” junior Jasmine Gonzalez said. “You just have to be really careful because you don’t know how another person [will react].”

Teachers see firsthand the impact the crimes have on students, and the grief can take over in the classroom. 

“I have seen many students grieve either because of the loss of a friend or due to a tragic incident,” history teacher Hunter Davis said. “We all too often see ourselves as individuals living in a vacuum until something awful happens to the community and we begin to see the effect that has on the mental health of people, especially students.”

Regardless, the impact of these crimes directly affects students as some may be friends or related to either the victims or the perpetrators, leaving a lasting impact on their perception of the community surrounding them. 

“Students often feel helpless and not sure how to process the feelings they have at the moment,” Davis said. “A community of family and friends will be the ones left suffering through the process of what happened and why while losing a loved one, either in death or through imprisonment.”

 

All information was sourced from Bowie County criminal court case records and Texarkana Texas Police Department Crime Analysts.

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About the Contributors
Anna Bell Lee
Anna Bell Lee, Managing Editor/Webmaster
Anna Bell Lee is in her second year on the newspaper staff and is now Managing Editor and Webmaster. She is passionate about life and everything she does. She is a very organized and Type-A person but also loves to go with the flow. She loves her dog as if she were her child and would do anything for her. Lee plans on going to college for either nursing or journalism.   
Truth Dukes
Truth Dukes, Social Media Manager
Truth Dukes is a third year returning year staff photographer and is the current Social Media Editor for photography. She enjoys creative multimedia work, and plans to study Media Marketing after high school at the University of North Texas. Truth is excited to help lead the photographers this year aside the other photo editors, but is sad to finish her last year of being a staff photographer.

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