New Old Town plan would help curb crime, down for 3 years

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WICHITA -- Big changes may soon be coming to Old town.

The Wichita City Council will hear an ordinance to formally make the area an entertainment district.

Part of that plan would include increasing criminal fines, something that the Wichita Police Department supports.

"It's not going to be a panacea for everything, but it's a good start," said Wichita Police Capt. Jose Salcido.

The plan is modeled off successful entertainment districts, like in Oklahoma City, Salcido said.

The proposal would amp up fines for any lawbreakers. First-time offenses would cost $500. Second-time offenses would cost $1,000 and possible jail time. Repeat offenders could be banned from the area.

"It makes it a place to come down and enjoy and if you have stiffer penalties, people tend to think twice about that," Salcido said. "Regardless of what the penalty is, you're still going to have incidents down there. Hopefully they'll be minor and less. It doesn't change our approach to Old Town. The staffing will stay the same."

Currently, the police department has a large presence in the area, Salcido said. The plan wouldn't change their approach to Old Town. He said staffing would stay the same, but the approach would be proactive. The plan would allow officers to barricade areas to help control traffic. He said this would only help improve the criminal activity in Old Town, which has decreased over the past three years.

"We want to make it so it's a very attractive place to come and play and spend your money," he said.

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