By Anne Meyer
KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
9:40 PM CST, November 28, 2012
Wichita Police Chief Norman Williams says his supervisor was justified in setting off tear gas in Old Town early Friday morning. The small canister of tear gas was released in the 200 block of North Mosley.
Williams says a supervisor made the call to use the tear gas to help help break up a fight and disperse a large crowd. He says the crowd wouldn't leave and there were several fights in the area.
"That sergeant utilized the training that he's gone through as far as crowd management," Williams said. "He assessed his resources, he assessed the crowd, he assessed the risk factors and at the end of the day the decision was made to disperse a canister of tear gas, which proved to be effective."
While Williams can't say if tear gas will be used again in Old Town, he says it is a tool the department has and officers are trained to use it.
"You wish the crowd would have dispersed prior to that," Williams said. "But when you have multiple disturbances going on and you only have so many officers, then you rely on those tools."
Williams knows his department has dealt with large crowds in Old Town before, but there were fewer officers on the street because of the holiday. That's part of the reason why the supervisor used the tear gas.
Williams also says newly installed cameras in Old Town weren't working that night, they will be this weekend. He's added extra officers on busy nights and police are committed to doing whatever necessary to increase safety in the downtown.
Still the Chief knows it won't stop every incident. "You can add all the officers you want to have down there, but it still comes down to personal accountability," Williams said.
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