Surveillance cameras give WPD a second set of eyes in Old Town

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) The Wichita Police Department's video surveillance system is officially live, giving them the ability to monitor Old Town in real time from city hall.

Inside the command center, located on the fifth floor of city hall, Wichita Police can check out nearly every corner of the neighborhood that makes up most of Wichita's nightlife scene. Twelve cameras were up and running Thursday. The department plans to have all 70 installed by the end of summer.

Laurie Martin, a former bartender, knows how hectic Old Town can be during bar close.

"There have definitely been several instances of chaos and destruction," said Martin.

That's why she's on board with the idea of surveillance cameras scattered throughout the area.

"I think anything that heightens awareness and security for citizens is a positive thing. So I definitely think it will be a benefit to the community," said Martin.

City Council approved the system of 70 cameras and the control room in February for $750,000.

"We do know that these cameras came at an expense, but we feel it will be a tremendous asset to Old Town and help us ensure that the community remains safe," said Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay.

Ramsay says the primary goal is to keep people safe. But he says there are other benefits as well.

"These cameras are also an economic development tool. We know there's some previous studies that there are concerns about safety at night time, and these are going to help us address those concerns," said Ramsay.

Police can monitor the cameras in real time or jump to a certain day to review video. Ramsay says they're still working out how the command center will be staffed.