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Wichita Police Department launches youth-crime intervention effort

Published: Sep. 28, 2020 at 5:51 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 29, 2020 at 6:51 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The Wichita Police Department on Monday announced the formation of a unit to help with intervention efforts, proactively addressing youth involved in gangs and illegal behavior. WPD Chief Gordon Ramsay said crimes committed by minors are on the rise in Wichita.

“We have seen an uptick in juvenile crime in recent years,” Ramsay said.

The WPD, in collaboration with Sedgwick County Juvenile Services, created a WPD Juvenile Intervention Unit (JIU). The WPD said the newly-created unit consists of a WPD sergeant, two WPD detectives, and two juvenile intervention officers.

“Youth who offend at a young age are more likely to become chronic and violent offenders as they age, and the best opportunity to intervene is as early as possible,” Wichita police said. “Because the first contact is often the police, we are in a position to be the most helpful. JIU staff will coordinate with child welfare groups, schools, treatment providers, and youth organizations to more effectively help Wichita’s youth.

The WPD said the JIU will use practices such as focused deterrence, diversion, and restorative justice “to keep youth out of the criminal justice system and onto positive paths by increasing their access to service providers in (the) community.”

“We are concerned about youth involved in illegal behavior and need to improve our rates of recidivism, help our youth and reduce crime,” Ramsay said. This newly created team will be investing in Wichita youth to assist them in getting the resources and support to be successful."

It’s all about helping children and teens before they get in trouble, Ramsay said.

A concerned mother of a Wichita teen who has committed multiple crimes as he’s gotten older hopes the WPD’s new program can reach him. She said her son is now 16 and she’s hopeful he’ll realize that his actions could have serious consequences.

Beyond just her personal situation with her son, the mother, who asked to remain anonymous, thinks Wichita desperately needs the Juvenile Intervention Unit. She said a program like this could have helped her son about three years ago.

“I think it would’ve helped because of all the times he’s interacted with police and nothing’s really happened,” she said. “He thinks he’s untouchable.”

Like Chief Ramsay, she hopes the WPD’s new intervention unit will stop teens from committing crimes before they find themselves in trouble with the law.

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