Wichita’s Old Town security continues moving forward

Entrance to Wichita's Old Town Marketplace. (KSN photo)

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Efforts to reduce crime in Wichita’s Old Town area are continuing to move forward. Businesses around the city’s entertainment district are adopting a new security protocol that puts IDs in a database when people walk into a bar or club. The system is designed to ensure the wrong people aren’t allowed in.

Businesses like the Pumphouse have had the Bar Shield ID system for about two years, but after a recent Old Town Association meeting, police are mandating all bars and clubs in the district have one at the front door on weekends.

Matt Jones, the assistant general manager at the Pumphouse says police are continuing to crack down on crime and step up security at clubs like his.

“We have regular meetings now,” said Jones. “The Wichita Police has become increasingly proactive.”

Since March, Police Chief Gordon Ramsay has been vocal about implementing more security policies in Old Town.

“We are committed and determined to maintain and enhance safety in Old Town,” said Ramsey.

As for the Bar Shield ID system, Jones said, “There’s still a lot of privacy involved. There’s nothing that’s going to interfere with anything. It’s not Big Brother, by any means. It’s only a way for us to monitor the guests that we have coming in, and if anybody causes any issues, it gives us the ability to no longer allow them into our establishment.”

Jones said, by the end of the year, every establishment in Old Town will have Bar Shield ID along with security guards at their front door. He said the system is easy on the customers.

“All you do is when you go in to scan, you just hit the scanner key, and it will actually just give you a run down on whether or not the patron is allowed in.”

The ID scanner stores basic information like your name and birthday.

Larissa Law, the general manager at Emerson Biggins, says the system is pricey and costs up to $2,000 after the purchase price and monthly fee. But she says it’s worth it to keep unwanted guests out.

“I think it will be beneficial for those few people that do come downtown every Thursday, Friday, Saturday night, and they do just consistently cause problems,” Law said. “So, it will be helpful to know when you don’t always have the same staff at the door.”

Also enforced at the last Old Town Association meeting, is the policy that owners need to make sure all music in the bars and clubs ends at 1:30 a.m.  And, after closing time, security will be required to make sure there’s no one loitering within 25 feet of each establishment. If people don’t move along, they’ll likely get a ticket from Wichita Police.