WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – PSP is underway in Wichita. But, will the National Public Safety Partnership make a difference in slowing violent crime in Wichita?
“It has shown results in many other cities,” said U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister, district of Kansas.
McAllister joined Wichita Police Department Chief Gordon Ramsay, District Attorney Marc Bennett and other members of the Justice Department for the kickoff.
Sheriff’s department leaders were also invited to travel to other cities to see what works in cutting violent crime.
“To focus on the same issues,” said Chief Ramsay. “So we’re all pulling the rope in the same direction.”
The PSP does not offer a lot of money for a lot of new things. What is does is offer collaboration.
Wichita is one of 10 cities to be connected to the group this year.
District Attorney Marc Bennett calls it a great idea and a chance to take some of the best ideas from across the country and bring them home. It includes mental health issues.
“When 40 percent of the people in the jail have or are diagnosed with some sort of mental disease, 11 percent in the Department of Corrections are diagnosed as being persistently mentally ill, it is undeniably a risk factor for people to commit more crime,” said Bennett.
Some community leaders hope the collaboration gives police officers more training to better connect with civilians.
“When you bring in ATF and the police, sheriff, DA, when you bring in all these agencies and the entire community, I believe we’re making a good step forward,” said Pastor Roosevelt Deshazer, Progressive Missionary Baptist Church.
Deshazer has been working closely with police for a couple of years on crime issues. He says the police department has worked hard at connecting with the community, and he calls that a key to stopping crime. He is also hopeful the partnership is a good start at doing more.
“Continue to build relationships,” said Deshazer. “Continue to talk to communities. Talk to the people that actually live there.”
Chief Ramsay says while the PSP is largely collaborative, he hopes to bring some ideas to fruition fast.
“Methamphetamine is going to be dealt with like never before,” said Ramsay. “Mental health and it’s not just a police issue, it’s all of us dealing with it and moving forward.”
In June, Attorney General William Barr announced Wichita would be taking part in the program. Ten cities were picked this year to participate.
The collaboration begins in Memphis in September where Wichita members will go and meet for three days to get ideas.
“So, we are definitely making strides. We know that,” said Ramsay. “But this is a chance to really move our efforts forward.”