Will white lines deter homelessness in downtown Wichita?

Local

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Striping the sidewalks to curb crime. That is the latest push by Wichita police and city leaders.

Around 700 to 800 a month is how many calls the Wichita Homeless Outreach team said they get in the Open Door area in downtown Wichita. They said the white lines would make a difference.

“This is just us trying to do something else that eliminates the concern that stakeholders in that area have,” said Capt. Wendell Nicholson, the Wichita Police Department Patrol South Bureau commander.

Wichita police said drugs and violence are common at 2nd and Topeka. They said business owners reached out to them, sharing their frustrations with people blocking their sidewalks, sleeping on their properties, and engaging in illegal activity.

“The area around Open Door experiences significantly more violence than other homeless encampments,” said Capt. Nicholson.

They put in the white lines to show where the private property meets public property and keep individuals away. Wichita’s mayor said this is news to him.

“The first time I heard about the white lines and that policy was after it happened,” said Mayor Brandon Whipple.

Mayor Whipple said he wishes the city council was brought in on this issue.

“I’m upset with the white lines as well. I think we should be doing a better job as a community and as the local government in ensuring that people have a bed to sleep in,” said Whipple.

“This isn’t an issue where we are going to arrest our way out of the problem. Our number one goal is to always provide services to the homeless,” said Capt. Nicholson.

The HOT team will warn those trespassing and plan to educate first, but arrests are not out of the question.

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