The crime rates in Wichita are much higher than the state and national rates. 2020 violent crime rates report that for a hundred thousand people in Wichita there were 1141 incidences compared to Kansas’ 346.4 and the U. S’s 388 for a similar population in 2020 (Area Vibes). Violent crimes include murder, rape, robbery, and assault. Similar trends were evident in the property crimes section, including burglary, theft, and vehicle theft. There were 5322 property crimes in Wichita per 100,000 compared to 2199 and 1958 per 100,000 people at the state and national level (Area Vibes). Violent crimes require an urgent multifaceted approach that addresses the root cause of their high prevalence.
One of the factors leading to higher crime rates in Wichita compared to Kansas and the U.S is the limited number of law enforcers. Interestingly, the number of law enforcement officers in Wichita per 1000 residents is lower than both in the state and the nation. According to Wichita Police Department, there are 2.1 police officers for every 1000 residents compared to 2.5 and 3.3 for Kansas and the U.S (Area Vibes). It shows that Wichita trails Kansas average and National average by 14.2% and 34.7%, respectively (Area Vibes). Wichita is, therefore, grossly understaffed, leading to less deterrence and increased criminal activities.
The second factor causing high crime rates in Wichita is unemployment and poverty. According to statistics, the unemployment rate in Wichita is 4.3%, while the poverty level is 17.1% compared to Kansas’ 13.3% (Area Vibes). It means that Wichita has a massive population of poor people, some of whom may resort to crime to earn a living. The high levels of poverty and unemployment could be the reason why violent crimes and property crime rates are soaring in Wichita. People living in abject poverty and employment experience high levels of stress. Since they have no proper ways of mitigating the severe stress, they end up with depression and engage in acts like assault, murder, and violent robbery.
The third factor leading to high crime rates in Wichita is drug abuse and gang culture. In a recent crackdown on gang violence, dubbed Operation Triple Beam, the police seized 165 kilograms of narcotics. They also seized more than 200 firearms and more than two thousand dollars in cash (The Associated Press). The Department of Justice believed that the operation was crucial for reducing violent crime in Wichita and would relieve the residents.
The first measure that can deter crime in the area is identifying the hot spots and increasing the number of police officers patrolling the areas. A study showed that increasing police presence by around 50% caused an economically and statistically significant drop in up to 15% crime levels (Klick and Tabarrok 11). Essentially, the ratio of police officers to residents should increase to at least 3.3 for every 1000 residents to change the number of crimes committed. Increasing police presence would make it harder for criminals to commit felony hence acting as a deterrent to criminal activities.
Apart from hiring more police for the area, it is vital to increase the funding for the police in the area. The police use different equipment to respond to crime, including police vehicles, police stations, among other equipment. An adequately equipped police unit can work better in preventing crime. Studies indicate that when cities receive increased policing funding they hire more staff, compared to those that do not receive the grants. On average, the staffing levels increased by 3.2 percent, with a corresponding decrease of 3.5 percent in crime levels compared to the cities that did not receive the funding. In one study, the researchers concluded that for every 1 dollar invested in policing, there is a corresponding 1.63 dollars in social returns (Chaflin and McRay 30). Therefore, it would be essential to increase the Wichita Department of Police funding to decrease the crimes.
Finally, reducing poverty and unemployment would be a good way of dealing with the crimes that arise from want. According to a recent study, unemployment and income inequality rates increase crime rates while trade openness decreases crime rates (Anser et al.). Also, education and health reforms targeting the poor can reduce the crime rate in an area. It is, therefore, necessary for the administration of Wichita to invest in educational grants to increase access to education among the poor. A sound healthcare system would also help reduce the burden of poverty among the vulnerable in the community. Apart from that, the administration can create a conducive environment for doing business through incentives like tax reliefs to help the poor establish income-generating enterprises.
In conclusion, Wichita experiences high crime rates due to drug abuse, gang culture, poverty, and unemployment. Wichita requires a combination of measures that will deal with the root cause of the problems. Increasing the police ratio to the number of residents and the police funding will help reduce crime in Wichita. There is also the need to invest in social welfare like improved healthcare, educational grants, and openness to trade which are vital in reducing poverty and unemployment levels.
Anser, Muhammad Khalid, et al. “Dynamic Linkages Between Poverty, Inequality, Crime, and Social Expenditures in a Panel of 16 Countries: Two-Step GMM Estimates”. Journal Of Economic Structures, vol 9, no. 1, 2020. Web.
The Associated Press.” More Than 1,000 Arrested in Wichita Area During Crackdown | AP News”. AP NEWS, 2021, Web.
Area Vibes.“Wichita, KS Crime Rates & Map.” Areavibes.Com, 2021, Web.
Area Vibes. “Wichita, KS Employment – Median Household Income, Unemployment Rate.” Areavibes.Com, 2021, Web.
Chaflin, Aaron, and Justin McCrary. Are U.S. Cities Underpoliced?: Theory And Evidence∗. University Of Pennsylvania, 2015, p. 30, Web.
Klick, Jonathan, and Alexander Tabarrok. Using Terror Alert Levels to Estimate the Effect of Police on Crime. Journal of Law and Economics, 2005, pp. 1-16, Web.