WPD’s newest task force, strategy to combat violent crime


KSN has an exclusive look at the Wichita Police Department’s newest strategy to combat the most violent crime and offenders.

The Violent Crime Community Response Team is made up of 16 members, and Saturday night, we were able to tag along with an officer.

KSN’s Sara Berlinger talked with him about the initiative’s successes and what you can do to help their effort.

Early Sunday, this is where Officer Sage Hemmert found himself and others on the night team of the violent crime task force, the scene of the latest homicide. But let’s go back to where the work day started.

Officer Hemmert says he never knows what to expect when his shift starts, but when there’s an opportunity to contact a person associated with violent crime. he and his team take it.

They started with surveillance on two active gang members, waiting for the opportunity, to stop them.

“He’s definitely somebody that needs our attention, he’s a person of interest in not just this crime, but several others,” said officer Sage Hemmert, Gang Intelligence Officer.

The team members say they saw the two men trespassing at an apartment building. After a foot chase, when the team says they recovered a gun, the men are taken into custody for questioning. 

“I’m going to come around and we’re going to get him over that fence somehow,” said Off. Hemmert.

Since the team started full-time in January to August 20th, they’ve made 404 gang contacts, 261 arrests, and investigated 247 cases.

Their effort began as an experiment during the summer of 2017 , and after some big successes in combating crime, it started full-time.

“Gives you an opportunity to contact them, interview them, shake things up, and see what happens and before you know it, you have a prosecutable case,” said Off. Hemmert.

Officer Hemmert says the department’s gang database is a useful tool for gang intelligence and fighting crime. He says after three years of no gang activity, people fall off the list.

As day turns into night, another chance to arrest a documented gang member arises, this time, officers say he is wanted for violating his parole. There’s another foot chase and the team considers going into the home he’s connected to.

“He jumped the backyard into this house and this is his house,” said Off. Hemmert.

After consideration, they call it off because they don’t believe he’s inside. And it’s back on the road, until a homicide call, the 37th in Wichita this year.

“We located one person that was, that had critical injuries. Fire and EMS came out they tried to revive the person and were unable to, that person died on scene, and we’re still currently investigating that,” said Sgt. Paul Kimble, Wichita Police Department.

The focused work of the task force hopes to help curb crime. Officer Hemmert says it’s an effort that will also require, community support.

“The more cooperation that we get from the public, the more effective we are as the police,” said Off. Hemmert.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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