Fueled almost entirely by an increase in thefts, the number of Part 1 crimes jumped 8.2 percent in Wichita last year when compared to 2011 totals.
Violent crime – murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault – was up 2 percent, the figures show. Property crime – burglary, theft and auto theft – jumped 9.7 percent. Violent and property crimes are classified as Part 1 crimes.
Overall crime, which includes Part 1 and Part 2 offenses, rose 2.2 percent from 2011 to 2012 as a total of 69,487 incidents of criminal activity were reported to police during the year.
Part 2 crimes include simple assault, vandalism and drug violations.
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The figures were released Friday by Police Chief Norman Williams, who also offered a status report on some of the changes that are being made at the department.
Williams said the city’s clearance rate remains above the national average for most offenses. The department recorded a 100 percent clearance rate for homicides in 2012 despite the fact that two of the year’s 28 homicides remain unsolved. Detectives cleared two homicides from earlier years, Williams said.
Williams said the city recorded seven gang-related homicides in 2012 and 14 gang-related drive-by shootings. The figures compare favorably with the 1990s, he said, when the city was averaging 200 to 225 drive-by shootings a year.
Williams said the crime of theft was being driven by a significant increase in the number of shoplifting cases. The most commonly reported stolen items in Wichita are cash, cellphones and purses, he said.
Williams said the department enjoyed some important equipment upgrades in 2012, including the addition of 200 mobile computer terminals for patrol cars and 150 Tasers that replaced models that had been in use since 2006. He said the department also acquired five fingerprint machines that allow officers to capture fingerprints in the field. He said the devices can help officers quickly identify suspects who are reluctant or unwilling to disclose their true identities to police.
For the first time ever, Williams said, each of the department’s four patrol bureaus now has a crime analyst to help detect neighborhood crime trends that might previously have gone unnoticed.
Williams said 24 people died in traffic accidents in Wichita last year – down from 26 in 2011. He said traffic safety would remain a top priority for the department in 2013.
Both of the 2012 unsolved homicides involved victims who were shot in the head. Robert Newman, 73, was found dead in his unlocked home in the 3500 block of West Ninth Street on Nov. 25. Samuel Springsteen, 23, was shot in early morning hours of May 27 during an altercation outside his home in the 5100 block of East Bayley. Before that shooting, police said, two of Springsteen’s friends were involved in an argument with some gang members attending a party across the street.
During 2012, police said, detectives were able to clear the Oct. 8, 1996, slaying of Michael Osbey, 23, who was shot in his face and chest at 17th and Grove. Police also said they were able to clear the Dec. 13, 2010, slaying of Stephen Smallwood, 41, who was shot while sitting in SUV parked outside his business, Perfection Auto at 4150 S. Broadway. Police said suspects in both cases are in prison on other charges.
Crime in Wichita
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* Although two 2012 homicides remain unsolved, two cases from earlier years were cleared in 2012.
Source: Wichita Police Department