Tuesday, November 13, 2012
It’s a stunning crime trend that has police shaking their heads. But this time it’s because the crime rate in one of Wichita’s worst areas has dropped by an astonishing number.
Ninth Street and Madison is an area where gang members flourished and crime was a way of life. Now, just a few years later, you can walk down this street without worry.
Wichita Police Chief Norman Williams and Tommy Benford go back a long way, both remembering what the neighborhood used to look like.
Drive-bys, child abuse and prostitution were all prevalent in the northeast Wichita neighborhood. In 2002, there were 3,400 reports of violent crime.
"We was able to observe our community become a demise, and no one wanted to come rescue it and make a difference in it," said Benford, property manager.
His son even joined a gang in the neighborhood, so Benford decided to take action, along with the Wichita Police Department, hoping to change lives.
"You fast forward now in 2012 and it's a whole new transformation; it's difference in day and night," Williams said.
Since then, the rundown drug homes have been torn down; new Mennonite gated homes take their place. Community police officers mended relationships with neighbors, and crime dropped dramatically – by 37 percent.
“It reflects our strategy,” Williams said. “It reflects our efforts in engaging the community, in making their neighborhood safe."
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