Community meeting

Wichita Police to Host Community Meeting on New Method of Policing

The Wichita Police Department will host a community meeting Tuesday night to discuss a new method of predictive policing.

The method, which the department calls risk-based policing, uses data to determine what kinds of places in the city are correlated with gun crime.

“From some of the preliminary models we’ve run so far, convenience stores emerge as a strong predictor of gun crime,” City of Wichita crime analyst Geoffrey Vail said during a briefing. District Advisory Board Meeting 3. “That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re criminal in nature…but what we see is that often times these places facilitate an environment that allows gun crime to occur.”

Other locations the department has found linked to crimes committed with firearms are hotels, motels and liquor stores.

Wichita Police Department

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This city-wide report shows which locations correlate with gun crimes.

The city’s four police bureaus will pilot the program focusing on a trial location determined by the predictive policing method, Vail told the advisory board meeting. He added that comments from police officers and citizens would also be taken into account.

Community advocate LaWanda DeShazer has called for a meeting on predictive policing because she fears it is being used by law enforcement to target minority communities.

“It kind of raised the flag for me,” DeShazer said. “Because in a lot of the poorer areas you’ll find all kinds of corners that have tire shops and liquor stores. But that doesn’t mean that all the people there are bad.

DeShazer said she hopes to know what the predictive policing data will be used for — like more arrests, more patrols, or more community resources.

At the advisory board meeting, Vail said the strategy would not rely on arresting people.

“It’s about improving the whole region and developing a comprehensive strategy to tackle chronic problems,” he said.

The meeting will also discuss the department’s use of Flock cameras, which capture license plate numbers and other distinguishing characteristics of vehicles. The city bought 110 cameras in April 2021 to assist the department in recovering stolen vehicles, making arrests and assisting in investigations.

“I want citizens to know what’s going on,” said DeShazer, who also asked the police department to discuss the cameras.

The meeting will take place at the Center de ressources du quartier Atwater at 6 p.m.