Local law-enforcement leaders address rise of violent crime in Wichita

A team of Wichita Police Department officers is focused on cutting down on violent crime in the...
A team of Wichita Police Department officers is focused on cutting down on violent crime in the city.(KWCH)
Published: Dec. 16, 2020 at 6:40 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Local law-enforcement leaders met in Wichita Wednesday (Dec. 16) to discuss what they’re seeing and some of the biggest issues. They say COVID-19 has had a big impact on crime in the City of Wichita. Coming out of Wednesday’s discussion that included Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay and Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter, it’s clear that violent crime has increased in Wichita.

Wichita police report the city’s homicide count for this year at 51. Ramsay said there’s been a significant increase in gun violence and drive-by shootings during the pandemic. Easter talked about having a record number of inmates and jail-staffing shortages. Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said due to COVID-19, fewer criminals are getting through the court system, as they can only have about two jury trials per week, and right now the focus is on the most serious cases

“On top of everything else, we have to be mindful. The sheriff only has so many beds in the jail and I can’t just overwhelm him, because he has a population to manage. So, we are trying to balance public safety with the realities of running a jail and you can’t’ just offload them to a different jurisdiction” Bennett said.

The Wichita Police Department’s Major Crime Reduction Team has made a difference in recent months, the department reported last month.

Another big topic discussed Wednesday was mental health issues. the law-enforcement leaders on the panel said more resources are needed to address those issues.

“Admittance to Via Christi and then, as well, COMCARE calls are up,” Easter said. “Some of that is due to the pandemic, depression, those types of things, but the fact of the matter is we still have a huge problem in this community and meth is driving every bit of that.”

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