City of Wichita and Old Town Association officials on Thursday provided an update on ongoing public safety improvements in the city’s most popular entertainment destination.
New public safety improvements in the downtown entertainment district include an increased number of nightclubs using an identification scanner to track patrons who show a pattern of public misconduct and an enhanced number and quality of lighting.
The Old Town Association is working with the area’s bar owners to install the identification scanner system, Bar Shield. Old Town’s club owners have agreed to install the system, which allows the business to scan a patron’s government-issued identification as they enter the establishment. The Bar Shield system identifies fake ID’s thereby helping reduce the number of underage patrons entering nightclubs. The system also assists crime-fighting efforts by working with security cameras to identify people who have committed assault, property theft or other illegal acts.
“Business owners can use their camera system to capture the crime and the Bar Shield system can help identify a suspect,” said Jose Salcido of the Wichita Police Department. Bar Shield is connected to a network so all clubs can share information. If a person is a habitual problem their ID can be flagged in the database and potentially banned from an establishment.”
Increased and enhanced lighting is also coming to the Old Town Entertainment district, which is bounded by Douglas, Central, Wabash and St. Francis streets. In a public-private partnership, the City of Wichita purchased the lights and the Old Town Association will fund the installation and maintenance costs. Full installation is targeted for June, just ahead of the peak summer season. Also, existing lighting is being upgraded to light-emitting diode, or LED, by the City’s Public Works & Utilities Department. LED lighting is generally brighter with a better color temperature and reduced energy use. The effort is approximately 15% complete and is progressing as funds become available.
"These first initiatives are the result of a year's worth of planning, coordination, and dedication by the WPD, the City of Wichita, the Old Town Association, and area businesses," said Jason Van Sickle, Old Town Association President. "Along with the other initiatives that we will implement in the weeks ahead, these efforts will have an immediate and significant impact on safety in Old Town," said Jason Van Sickle, President, Old Town Association.