Officials from the Old Town Association and the City of Wichita gave an update on Thursday regarding the public safety improvements being made in old Town.
The downtown entertainment district features several nightclubs. More of these clubs will begin using an identification scanner that tracks patrons who show a pattern of public misconduct. Additionally, the lighting in the Old Town are will be improved, increasing both the number and the quality of the lights.
The Old Town Association is currently working with bar owners in the area to install the identification scanner system, which is called Bar Shield. Club owners in Old Town have agreed to install Bar Shield. The system scans the government-issued identification of patron as they enter, and is able to identify fake ID’s. This will help to reduce the number of underage patrons entering the clubs.Bar Shield can also be of assistance when it comes to crime-fighting efforts, as it works with security cameras to identify those committing illegal acts such as assault, property theft and others.
“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.”
The Old Town Entertainment district will also see an increase in the quality and number of lights. Old Town 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 projected to be completed in June, just before the peak of the summer season. Existing lighting will be upgraded to LED lighting by the City’s Public Works & Utilities Department. That is to say, the lights will be brighter, offering a better color temperature and reduced energy use. The effort is currently about 15% complete and progress will continue 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.