Lowering the temperature: WPD, community leaders want people to think before pulling a gun

Crime

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – If it seems like there has been more gun violence in Wichita this year, you are right. The Wichita Police Department says incidents where firearms are displayed, and road rage incidents where guns are pointed and aimed are up about 24% over this time last year. (See chart below)

Police Chief Gordon Ramsay says a good example of how easily it can happen occurred just a couple of days ago. He said two cars backed into each other in a parking lot, and one of the people involved got out of the car with a handgun at his side. Witnesses talked him into putting it away.

“We’re seeing more and more of incidents that, just everyday incidents where people are pulling out guns as a way to resolve conflict where it doesn’t need to be,” Ramsay said.

He met with community leaders Thursday morning to discuss why it is happening and what needs to be done.

“We talked about trying to bring down the temperature, talking about if you have a firearm, make sure that you are pulling it out only as a last resort,” he said.

Ramsay believes societal failures are leading to a lot of the problems. For example, he said courts were closed for an extended amount of time due to COVID, and that has delayed justice in many cases. He also pointed to a lack of proper funding for chemical dependency and mental health issues.

Former Wichita City Councilmember Lavonta Williams said she is frustrated when she reads about so many teenagers dying from violence.

“They will never have the opportunity to graduate from high school,” she said, “They’ll never have the opportunity to give their mother or their father a grandchild, all because they didn’t think before they acted.”

She wants to know what Wichita and community leaders can do to turn things around.

“Is there more money needed to invest in our young people to keep them off the streets? Is it something that we’re not doing that perhaps we should be doing?” Williams asked.

Another community leader said he wants everyone to be a part of the solution.

“I don’t believe we can bring the heat down until we turn it up,” said Angel Martinez with Love Your Community. “By that, I mean we have to take our part in the mess. If you’re not doing anything, you’re part of the problem. If you’re not saying anything, you’re part of the problem. If you’re sitting back and you think it’s WPD’s job to fix the things that we’re seeing and are not saying anything, you’re part of the problem.”

Martinez said there are many kids at home with nothing to do, nobody to talk to, and no outlet. So he wants people to reach out to them to see what is going on in their lives.

“Let’s figure out a solution,” he said. “Stop sitting on your hands. Stop being part of the problem and become part of the solution.”

Wichita Crime Statistics from WPD

YTD 2020YTD 2021% Change
Aggravated Assault1,3601,3801%
DV Related5285474%
Firearm discharged13016124%
Firearm displayed2022209%
Firearm drive-by7471-4%
Total Stolen Firearms3263466%
Total Recovered Firearms12297-20%
Auto Theft9891,32634%
Shooting Victims9912425.3%

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