Eagle editorial: Crime drop welcome

The sharp decline in violent crime in northeast Wichita since 2008 is outstanding news for residents’ peace of mind and quality of life.

An analysis in the Sunday Eagle of Wichita Police Department data focused on six crime-reporting zones in northeast Wichita, from Ninth to 25th streets and from Hillside to Hydraulic. The Eagle found that violent crimes such as murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault dropped dramatically, from a total 190 in 2008 to 89 last year. Gang violence decreased slightly, too, according to police. The positive changes are even more apparent to those who remember the early 1990s, when gangs and drugs made some of those blocks resemble war zones.

Wichita police Capt. Rusty Leeds of the Patrol North bureau credited a combination of factors for the recent improvement, including partnerships between police and residents, engaged neighbors, efforts to reduce blight and revitalize neighborhoods, and crackdowns on gang activity. New housing projects are helping.

That fewer crimes were committed doesn’t ease the suffering and loss for those who were victimized. People should be able to live without violence or fear in their neighborhoods. And as The Eagle’s reporting showed, the area still has some of the decaying buildings and burned-out homes that attract drug activity and other trouble.

But the crime numbers deserve applause as well as further analysis. Neighbors, law enforcement, elected officials, churches and nonprofit groups must work together to learn from and extend the welcome trend.

For the editorial board, Rhonda Holman