Hyatt sale money going to charity instead of anti-crime tech

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There was talk that the city of Wichita would spend some of the money from last year’s sale of the Hyatt Hotel on surveillance equipment in District 1. Instead, $290,000 of it will be going to a charity.

People living in northeast Wichita won't have to worry about being constantly watched by police cameras.

Many people at Tuesday's City Council meeting said adding cameras to District 1 singles out a certain demographic.

Robert Anderson, who spoke during the council’s public comment time said, “If it decides to misappropriate funds from the Hyatt proceeds by spending it to conduct reconnaissance missions on the people of District 1. Crime is all over this city.”

Council member Lavonta Williams proposed spending her share of the Hyatt sale proceeds to add cameras and even a shot spotter system. That system can detect gunshots and zero in on them within 50 feet. The technology can also tell police if gunshots came from a moving car, and can determine the direction that car was traveling. It can also let police know if two guns are shooting at each other, and who shot first.

Williams, like all the other council members, received one million dollars to use in their district. She wanted to use $290,000 on the high-tech systems to fight crime in her district. Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay supported that.

"Cameras are great there's no doubt they help with crime and safety when they are used properly and neighborhoods do fight for where the next set is going to go," said Ramsay.

The money will now go to a project run by the United Way of the Plains to help with entrepreneurship, economic development and public safety in District 1.

Chief Ramsay hopes this will give his department more time to get with the community over the controversial subject of adding cameras.

“I’m a supporter of the cameras. What has happened is the discussion has taken place on a larger scale than on a local scale. And really I want to have discussions with neighbors and residents and leaders in the neighborhood before we do any of this.”

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