Wichita police addressing concern with rise in teen shootings

Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 11:31 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Tuesday’s shooting near Wichita East High School was the latest crime highlighting a growing concern in the city. Wichita police say this year, teen shootings are becoming too common.

Police said Tuesday’s shooting that left three high school students injured was not random and stemmed from some sort of argument beforehand. Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay said this is something we’re seeing too often in the city, teens turning to violence to solve their problems.

“It is a problem, and we’ve seen an increased use in firearms among teens,” Ramsay said. ‘”And we’ve been talking about it all year.”

The Wichita Police Department has made efforts to reduce violent crime by minors. These efforts include launching the WPD’s Strategic Engagement to Reduce Violence program, or “SERV,” earlier this month. That program targets at-risk youth and offers them incentives like employment assistance, schooling or rehab, as long as they stay out of trouble in return.

But even with these efforts, Ramsay said it’ll also take help from families and the community to really see a difference.

“When you look at our homicides, we’re clearing those with arrests. This goes beyond the police,” the WPD chief said. “It goes to family, it goes to people that influence these youth. It can’t just be about police continually arresting suspects in shootings.”

Ramsay said prevention begins with educating youth about the consequences of this kind of behavior, whether it’s from parents, community members or anyone else with an influence on the city’s youth. The chief said police can only do so much in changing the mindset of teenagers who are at risk of becoming violent offenders.

“Many times, it feels like people just look to the police, that we are the sole beginning and answer to all these problems. And it isn’t that simple,” Ramsay said.

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