Rise of Crime in Topeka


Topeka police department

Elizabeth Hennessey

Monday, October 2 marked the deadliest modern shooting on American soil. Sunday, October 1, Shawnee Heights grad Colwin Henderson and two others died in a fatal shooting in a neighboring city. Monday, June 26 recent Heights grad Justice Mitchell died in a fatal shooting within the city. Topeka’s homicide rate for 2017 is at 22 homicides as of September 27; although, this is not the highest homicide rate Topeka has seen, it falls short of the 1994 high of 28 by only six homicides.

“If you average the past ten years it hovers around 11 or 12 [homicides], that’s an average. We aren’t extraordinarily high at this time,”  Lieutenant Colleen Stuart said.

Last year marked the 4th deadliest year for Topeka, with a homicide rate of 22. If the homicide rate stays on trend with how it is now, it will surpass last year’s high.

According the Topeka Police Department, while the overall property crime rate is down by 354 crimes, the violent crime rate is up by 43 crimes when compared to this time last year.   The majority of these violent crimes occuring, come from domestic violence. According to the FBI the violent crime rate for the United States overall increased from 2015 to 2016 by 4.1 percent.

For the year of 2017 there are so far two unsolved homicides, both were killed by guns. Mitchell’s death was the 16 homicide for Topeka, following ten hours after the 15th homicide of 18 year old Arden King. Since then, six more homicides have occurred; including, a double homicide in an apartment complex where a triple shooting occurred this year.

The TPD examines crime on a biweekly basis and identifies crime “hotspots” within the city limits and then work to implement a strategy to curb these crimes. They label these hotspots by identifying where crime is prevalent. Once identified, the curbing begins. This always includes re-allocating manpower, but can also include an increase in surveillance, officers walking or riding bikes in these hotspots rather than patrolling in cars.

The TPD works to curb crime in every way they deem possible, but they can’t do it on their own, Lt. Stuart urges the community to get involved.

“It’s good to be well informed, to think critically about things, and not take everything you see or hear as gospel,” Lt. Stuart said.  “You should do research, you should find several sources that say the same thing so that you have a more accurate picture of really what’s going on in the world. Outside of that I would say, if its crime in particular that you’re talking about, again, to be informed.”