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City Officials Unveil New Plans To Keep Old Town Safe

Becky McCray, flickr Creative Commons

The City of Wichita has announced a plan to help keep the Old Town entertainment district safe at night and on weekends.

The Wichita Police Department says violent crime in Old Town has decreased since 2012, but city officials say work still needs to be done. Mayor Jeff Longwell debuted recommendations for keeping the area safe.

“Some of the changes we’re making that we think will help provide a little bit better environment for everyone down there is allowing the hiring of off-duty officers,” Longwell says.

Bars and nightclubs would be able to hire off-duty police officers to work security. Current WPD policy only allows off-duty police officers to patrol parking lots. The city is also planning to install more lighting and more cameras, with financial help from Old Town businesses.

Another recommendation is creating a “super license,” which would apply to any business within the Old Town entertainment district with an entertainment license and a total cumulative number of patrons per premise of 200 or more. The license would require:

  • Purchase of an ID scanner or comparable application which allows driver’s licenses to be scanned and tagged if there are issues; 
  • Post signs (internal and parking lots) to inform patrons of the applicable ordinances (and fines) relating to code of conduct and clearing the premises at closing;
  • Notifying police when there are to be special events;
  • Restrict club entrance to patrons 21 and older after 12 a.m.;
  • Play calming closing time music;
  • SafeBar training attendance for all employees (currently restricted to managers).

Total costs aren’t yet known, and some of the changes will require action by City Council. The goal is to get everything done by the start of summer.

Follow Sean Sandefur on Twitter @SeanSandefur

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