Wichita Police Department launches hotline to help stop violent crime
The Wichita Police Department has launched a violent crime hotline in hopes of solving some of the latest violent crimes in the city and hopefully, preventing others.
Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay said Wichita has seen a significant increase in preventable crime over the last seven to eight years. He said after talking with other police chiefs around the state, Kansas has seen a similar rise in crime.
He said aggravated assaults with firearms have doubled since 2010 where 306 reports were made, to 615 in 2017, and 340 through July 2 of 2018.
Ramsay said many of these have been linked to guns stolen from vehicles. He said in 2011, 51 guns were stolen from vehicles in Wichita. The number jumped to 293 in 2017, and 130 through July 2 of this year.
"These guns are likely in the hands of bad guys, and as we saw this week, used in a very, very serious crime," said Ramsay.
Ramsay was referencing the deadly shooting involving an off-duty police officer. He said Christian Webb, the man who entered the officer's home and shot him in the leg on July 3, was armed with a Smith & Wesson M&P 9 mm. The gun had been stolen from a vehicle in the at New Market Square on June 17. The officer, in that case, returned fire, killing the suspect.
Ramsay pointed out that a firearm has been used in a majority of this year's homicides. He also noted that non-fatal shootings continue to be on the rise with 42 in 2011, 118 in 2017, and 63, so far, for 2018.
"This is not solely based on police. We got to look at, what's driving some of these numbers, why are we seeing these increases in gun violence? Why are more guns being stolen from cars? Is it a result of legislation? I don't know the answer to that, but I can tell you that something has changed in the last eight years that is having an impact on violence in the city," said Ramsay.
He said police rely on neighbors and witnesses to solve the crimes. He said the violent crime hotline was created based on community feedback.
"A lot of people don't want to call 911. We've got several shootings this year where we know people have information. That's one of the reasons why we're going door-to-door trying to reassure people that we're here for them, that we care and that we need their help to solve a crime," he said.
Ramsay said on Tuesday, 12 officers and 12 community members went door-to-door in the area of 13th and Oliver to pass out flyers and let people know about the hotline.
Four people were wounded in the area on June 25. Police believe they were victims of an apparent gang-related shooting, but detectives have had little to no cooperation to help find the suspects.
"We can't make progress without their help," said Ramsay. "Very rarely do we come across this cold and on our own. Our crime is solved with tips from people."
Ramsay said the violent crime hotline will be manned by an officer 24 hours a day so callers have a live person to speak with. He said, much like Crime Stoppers, callers can remain anonymous.
You can call the Violent Crime Hotline at 316-519-2282.