WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita’s top cop says he needs more officers on the streets. Police Chief Gordon Ramsay’s comments come after a year-long study that found the department is understaffed.
Ramsay says he wants enough officers that will allow his men and women to do their jobs, but also go above and beyond that to become more engaged in the community.
Both the chief and a community activist say the more the officers interact with the public, the better off the community will be.
“They are out there working hard trying to serve the community to the best of their abilities,” said Ramsay. “But the study clearly shows there is a need for additional staff.”
Ramsay says he needs about 73 new positions, 49 of them sworn officers because the study found during critical times each day, specifically during daylight hours, officers are too busy responding to calls to interact with the community.
“If all we are doing is responding to crime and we don’t have time to build relationships and get to know our citizens that we serve, that is detrimental to solving crime and making people feel safe,” Ramsay said.
Brandon Johnson is a community activist who’s been heavily involved in efforts to bridge the gap between people and officers. He helped plan the WPD community cookout, and he has hosted forums where beat officers sit down with people in the neighborhoods they patrol.
“Residents really liked it, getting to know them,” said Johnson. “They got their cards, so if there is an issue they can ask for them directly.”
And, both Ramsay and Johnson feel the more officers there are, the better off the community will be.
“You know, it really helps out when dealing with crime,” Johnson said. “Knowing who the officers are, knowing they care. All of those things are a big plus in the city if we can get to that.”
That’s a point on which Ramsay agrees.
“We solve crime when people know our officers.”
The big question is, how much it will cost taxpayers to add those new officers. The Wichita City Council will meet in a month after looking at the city’s budget to see what they can afford.