“I can tell you it's been very concerning and disturbing…the number of officer involved shootings,” Williams tells Eyewitness News.
Williams says he’s found himself asking one question a lot lately.
“The question you ask yourself is why? There’s no one answer,” says Williams.
Wichita doesn't seem to be alone in its problem. Other cities are experiencing similar increases in the number of officer involved shootings.
“We’re finding this not unique to Wichita.”
There have been eight officer involved shootings in Wichita since last October. Five people have been killed and four hurt. And a number of officers have been forced to make the ultimate decision.
“You never want to tell that to your child… that sticks with you and your child to know their father, even though he was doing his job, had to resort to killing someone,” says Williams who is talking from experience.
In the latest cases families of those shot are making their voices heard.
Protesters, including the occupy Wichita group, have camped out in front of city hall for weeks now. They’ve also taken to social media calling for Williams to step down.
“I understand they're calling for me to step down and that's their prerogative. On the flip side there are thousands of people who appreciate what this organization does.”
While some accuse the department of being too quick to shoot, Williams says there's another side. He's worried all the attention on the shootings could have the opposite effect and cause an officer to hesitate.
“That is a significant concern I have…that an officer, because of the perceptions, because of social media making comments…that the officer may wait the additional second that will cost them their life.”
Wichita police respond to thousands of calls every year that involve weapons.
Here are statistics provided by the department:
Total calls involving weapons (bats, knifes, guns, etc.)
- 2009 - 3,208
- 2010 - 3,052
- 2011 - 2,895
- 2012 - 1,699
Times officers drew their guns
- 2009 - 902
- 2010 - 1,161
- 2011 - 689
- 2012 - 303
“Our job is dangerous and each and every day it gets more dangerous. There's not a day that goes by without a disturbance with weapons,” says Williams.
This year has proved to be one of the worst, which is why Williams says he's more determined than ever to find answers.
“I want my officers to be able to go home to their families.”
The KBI and Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office are investigating the shootings. The DA will eventually decide if the shootings were justified.