Wichita Police Dept.: Joint operation helps decrease violent crime in city

WICHITA, Kan. The Wichita Police Department shares results from a two-month long operation targeting violent crimes and drugs in the community.

Wichita Police Department

The WPD partnered with federal, state and local agencies to go after offenders. Officers made hundreds of arrests during Operation Triple Beam in June and July.

WPD says Operation Triple Beam resulted in more than 900 arrests, and the seizure of more than 80 guns, more than $142,000 in cash and $835,000 worth of illegal drugs.

"Senator Jerry Moran was instrumental in bringing the resources of our federal partners to Wichita to combat violent crime,” said Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay in a pres release. "There is no doubt that the dramatic decrease in crime is a direct result of the hard work that was done by all of the partners in this effort."

The name "Triple Beam" comes from the triple-beam scale used to measure small amounts of substances. Wichita police say most of the violent offenders targeted in the two-month effort had warrants.

Of more than 900 arrests made in the operation, police say 506 were felony arrests.

Now,police say, they want to make sure those arrested during Operation Triple Beam aren't repeat offenders.

"Overall, on the back side of those (arrests), how many of those folks are going to get back out and start all over again in the same spot?" Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter says. "Those are the things, as police executives in this community and federal government, we got to discuss, and have been discussing. 'What else can we do here besides just arrest and put in jail and they get back out?' It's kind of a revolving door."

Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett says the long-term solution is more access to mental-health treatment and drug-and-alcohol-addiction treatment.

David Gilkey who mentors at-risk teens through the program, Rise up for Youth, agrees.

"I went in and out of jail so many times, I couldn't even tell you the number," he says.

Gilkey says, as he once did, a lot of offenders still struggle with addiction after they finish their sentences. And without help, they're likely to return to jail.

"I was addicted to crack for 16 years of my life. I know if I didn't get the help I got, I would probably still be doing the same crazy things I used to do," Gilkey says. "When you get out and you've never fought that demon of addiction, and you don't get the help, it's always going to tap you on the shoulder and say, 'hey, let's go back to doing what you've always done.' And until you get the right help, that revolving door is always going to be there, and that's jail or prison, or even a graveyard."

Today, Gilkey works with hundreds of at-risk students in Wichita, breaking the cycle at a young age, when it starts.

"Being on both sides -- I'm not using that excuse that you can't change your life -- but I was given a second chance. And I think a lot of these people aren't getting that second chance of redemption to say, 'hey, I've changed. I need help. What resources do I need?'"

Working to end life-damaging cycles, police say, is now part of the conversation when it comes to seeking long-term solutions to combating crime.