WICHITA, Kan (KSNW) – Wichita is seeing a 49% increase in homicides compared to last.

“We were trending very well with violence prior to COVID. I was very happy with where we were going, and then, COVID happened, and it just up and did the whole formula,” said Wichita Police Department Deputy Chief Jose Salcido.

The number is approaching record-breaking numbers. So far, Wichita has had 55 homicides. The record was set in 1993 during the crack epidemic with 57.

“I think that this year, we will be at the record or slightly above it, but we won’t be seeing like what they are seeing in New York and Chicago in the bigger cities,” said Salcido.

This year, 43% of the victims of firearms were under the age of 24. Wichita Deputy Police Chief Jose Salcido said there are fewer options to keep youth engaged.

“There were more opportunities for the youth to get engaged in different activities especially during lockdown there were not those opportunities this year,” said Salcido.

Salcido said by April the city saw an 89% increase in homicides compared to April of last year. It was at that point that police knew something needed to be done.

“We are using information from crimes all over to integrate into investigations. We are using anything and everything that we can to solve these murders,” said Salcido.

By November, that percentage had dropped from an 89% increase to 43%, and Salcido said as the pandemic dies down, he expects crime to drop.

“I think we have the right approach. My only regret is that we should have started this in August,” said Salcido.

The Wichita Police Department is asking for information on unsolved homicides. You can call Crime Stoppers at (316) 267-2111 or detectives at (316) 268-4407.