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Police to beef up presence in Old Town this weekend

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, Sep. 13, 2012, at 6:57 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012, at 7:45 a.m.

You can expect to see a heavy police presence and some road closings if you visit Old Town after midnight this weekend as Wichita police try to prevent a fifth consecutive weekend of gunfire breaking out in the city’s downtown entertainment district.

Deputy Chief Tom Stolz said Thursday that the number of off-duty officers assigned to Old Town will be increased from four to 10 on Friday and Saturday nights, and two SCAT teams instead of one will be monitoring the clubs as they close. SCAT teams consist of four to five officers who normally focus on street-level drug and gang crimes.

Stolz said several community police officers who typically work daytime hours have rearranged their schedules to help with the club closings. Two officers on horseback will be on duty in Old Town on Friday and Saturday nights, he said, the police helicopter will be monitoring the area, and up to four gang officers will be deployed.

Stolz said the temporary staffing changes were made in response to four shots-fired calls in Old Town during the last four weekends. Each incident occurred between 1:50 and 2:20 a.m. as clubs were closing. No one was hit by the gunfire and two men, both in their late 20s, were arrested.

Stolz said police see each of the shootings as an isolated incident.

“These cases are not related, and these are not gang-related as far as we can tell,” he said.

Stolz said officers will be experimenting with road closings for the next two weekends to see if controlling the flow of traffic into the area can help with crowd control as the bars are closing.

Reach Hurst Laviana at 316-268-6499 or hlaviana@wichitaeagle.com.

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