Wichita Police Department working to improve relationships in low-income areas

Published: Jun. 1, 2020 at 4:31 PM CDT
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The Wichita Police Department is working on programs to improve its relationships with low-income areas throughout the city. This comes with heightened awareness of racial-inequality concerns following the officer-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn.

With the programs, Wichita police officers will stop issuing tickets in low-income areas for equipment violations, like a burnt out headlight. Instead, they'll issue a voucher to get the equipment fixed.

NAACP Wichita Branch President Larry Burks says the group does work with the WPD regularly on this issue.

"It takes away from them having to having to choose between paying a ticket, which may result in them not being able to have their license," Burks says. "I think public safety is the bottom line. And (WPD Chief Gordon Ramsay) wants to prevent anything that is a detriment to our community, and I think that is a great step."

At a rally in Wichita Saturday, Chief Ramsay said his department would pay for the program with forfeited funds, so people can spend their money on necessities instead of citations and fixing equipment.

Another program's goal is to get youths off gang lists and out of the criminal justice system.

Wichita police and community advocates say they would like to see more community policing, as well. Last week, Ramsay told Eyewitness News a higher volume of recent calls in which officers have to respond has prevented a lot of community policing from happening.