WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The numbers are in, and shootings are up in Wichita this year.
Wichita Police Department Deputy Chief Jose Salcido says there are many factors that lead to higher gun violence numbers, but one major one is the courts being delayed due to the pandemic. Salcido hopes that these high numbers will soon end as the courts catch up on cases.
“The courts had actually come to a standstill. If you can’t get people together in a room to be a jury, then you can’t try cases,” explained Salcido. “We were arresting people, we just weren’t keeping them in jails because there is only so much room.”
So far this year, the city has seen 112 total shootings, 32 more than what we had seen at this time a year ago.
“We don’t have to pull guns on simple things, and a lot of the shootings that are being recorded was over simple things that could’ve been resolved with just a conversation,” said Pastor Richard Kirkendoll, president of the Greater Wichita Ministerial League.
Another disturbing trend, in 2020, 10% of gun violence victims were 17-years-old or younger.
So far this year, that number has risen to 22%. Many of the suspects in those cases are also teens, which adds another obstacle for law enforcement.
“We can’t just arrest juveniles and put them in the system. The max you can hold a juvenile for any period of time, and the kids know this, is 45 days,” said Salcido. “Short of murder, robbery, everything else they get out.”
He says that while gun violence numbers are trending toward matching 2020, he believes those numbers will slow down as we continue to move past the pandemic. He does not expect to see homicides reach the record number of 55 from a year ago.