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Wichita police linking social media to more drug-related violent crimes

Wichita Police Department in Wichita, Kansas
Wichita Police Department in Wichita, Kansas(KWCH 12)
Published: May. 5, 2021 at 5:14 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The Wichita Police Department is seeing a rise in violent crimes and finding information on social media, tracing several crimes back to teens’ cell phones.

Police say parents should closely watch their children’s social media, specifically Snapchat, an app police say is notorious for drug deals. And too often, police say, kids don’t know who they are meeting until it’s too late.

On Snapchat, drug deals take place in a matter of seconds and messages erase automatically. Users can delete accounts just as fast.

“That’s where we’ve seen some of the concerning activity and some of the problems lately. It isn’t these big, you know, multi-kilo drug deals. It’s these small amounts of marijuana, of other illegal drugs where violence’s is occurring,” said WPD Captain Travis Rakestraw.

Too often, drug deals end in shootings.

“Since 2018, (the) Wichita Police Department has worked at least nine homicides as a result of drug transactions that originated through social media,” Rakestraw said. “Just this year in February, a 14 year old was murdered at Shell Park, located at 25th North in Woodland during a drug transaction that was set up on social media. It is our intention to inform the public of the danger that accompanies these transactions. Parents should play an important role in monitoring social media usage of children.”

Wichita police say Snapchat and other social media platforms are driving violent crimes in the city, specifically with teens. They stress the need for parents to intervene before police get involved.

“I think that’s why it really has to start well before law enforcement gets involved parents have to set expectations with the kids. Sit down and have those discussions about what appropriate use is,” Rakestraw said.

Police are investigating whether two recent deadly shootings in the city, both involving teens, were connected to social media.

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