Old Town safety a matter of personal accountability, chief says
Wichita Police Chief Norman Williams answered questions at a news conference Wednesday about recent disturbances and the dispersal of a cannister of tear gas in Old Town.
The chief said, at the end of the day, the real issue is personal accountability for the people who are causing disturbances and loitering outside nightclubs after closing time.
A police sergeant on Thanksgiving night decided to activate teargas to disperse a crowd of several hundred people who were refusing to leave after 2 a.m. Several fights and minor disturbances had broken out in the crowd, and there were fewer officers than normal because of the holiday.
Williams told reporters that his officers undergo regular crowd management training to help them in maintaining a safe environment, especially when a lot of the people in the crowd have been drinking.
"Part of that eduction is assessing what tools we have available," Williams said.
The focus on much of the police activity in Old Town is in the 200 block of North Mosley, where two large nightclubs are situated across the street from one another, one with a capacity of 400 and the other with a capacity of 1,600.
"No matter where you go in our city, no matter where you go in the country, you're going to have people that, no matter what you do, they're going to be non-compliant. They're going to be confrontational," Williams said.
The use of teargas proved to be affective in breaking up the crowd without causing any serious injuries to any citizens, said Williams, who added a plea for people to modify their behavior to encourage a safer environment in Old Town.
"They have to held accountable for their actions," Williams said. "They have to be willing to walk away from a fight. They have to moderate how much they drink."