WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — After the Wichita Police Department’s (WPD) town hall meeting on its ‘Violent Crime Reduction Plan’ Thursday, several audience members say the meeting was a good first step. Others say it simply wasn’t enough.
The WPD says this town hall meeting came about as a result of recent drive-by shootings near 9th and Grove in northeast Wichita.
The goal was to bring community leaders, law enforcement and motivational speakers together to inform audience members about resources available to them, specifically personal development courses, youth programs, and housing department services.
At times, the meeting broke out into heated debates and passionate speeches from panelists, law enforcement officials, and audience members alike.
One key theme of Thursday’s meeting: accountability for both the community and law enforcement.
Several audience members brought up the question of trust in the WPD in light of the text message scandal that involved 13 officers earlier this year.
While several residents KSN News spoke to say they were pleased with the large turnout at Thursday night’s town hall, they hope to have more opportunities to further the conversation.
“We get told a lot about what we need to do in the community in order to solve these problems, but in the matters of trust and law enforcement culture, we’re not having those conversations,” resident Adrian Hicks said.
“There’s a multitude of other issues that need to be addressed in this community: there’s a mental health component that’s missing as well, and that is one component that was not addressed here tonight in a broad way that needs to be a part of this conversation,” Tommy Benford, Property Manager at Mennonite Housing, said.
Although WPD Interim Chief Lem Moore is set to leave the department at the end of September, he says he plans on scheduling between three to four meetings similar to this one that will take place within the next six months.