Literacy program aims to improve WPD, community relationship

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Over the last year there has been tension and understanding between Wichita and its men and women in blue.

“We had so many things going on in years past, Black Lives Matter, and you know we had that cookout that we had with the police department. I think this is another step of building that relationship that we need,” said mentor and Program Director of Rise Up For Youth, David Gilkey.

Since that protest, Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay has been engaging the community. But the newest initiative takes the cake for most original.

“It sounds a little strange, but it’s intriguing,” said Teri Spencer, Wichita native.

A chance to improve relations by flipping pages.

“Maybe, they get to know that officer on a first name basis, this officer get to know this family on a first name basis, and they can be able to connect to one another through just, reading books,” said officer Charley Davidson with the Wichita Police Department.

Thanks to Watermark Books and Café, police will soon be reading and discussing books with residents.

Mentor David Gilkey, who was a part of last year’s protest and cookout, said he has seen change and hopes the divide between police and the community continues to improve.

“As long as the community see that they are trying to make a change, they are going to start making a change also. Because they see that because, ‘okay if they can do something different, why can’t we join in and help them do it?” said Gilkey.

Wichitans we spoke with are on board with this new initiative and said it can help people of all generations.

“He is only two, but he will get to see the good side of everyone, and I really like the idea,” said Teri Spencer.

“A lot of times when they grow up, you know, they listen to their parents and people around them who don’t say very nice things about police nowadays,” said Linda Smith, Wichita resident. “So, I mean this is a good idea and a good opportunity to realize that police are the good guys too.”

If you don’t receive a post card, you can still sign up for the program. All you have to do is call Watermark Books to start the process.

Click here to get to the café’s website. You may also reach the store by phone at 316-682-1181.

Get breaking news, weather and traffic on the go. Download our News App and our Weather App for your phone and tablet. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.